UK’s Craft Beer Movement Gains Momentum

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Brew by Numbers co-founder Tom Hutchings

A few weeks back the second annual London Craft Beer Festival took place. I was struck by the energy,  reminiscent of the almost counter-culture, rebellious hipster vibe that the American Craft Beer movement had in its early days.  These independent brewers seem unafraid to take inspiration from across the pond and around Europe, having fun creating innovative brews at premium quality levels and maintaining a unique British identity.

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A stout from Alpha State Brewery

So, now that there are many delicious, well-made, exciting beers to be had in the UK, the only downside seems to be in finding them.  It is surprising how few pubs seem to have taken hold of the movement.  Sure, some pubs might have an odd craft beer on tap, but more often than not, what one finds are the usual suspects.

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Partizan’s Cuvee Lemon

Is it laziness or is it the big guys paying for space/tap lines?  Or, are consumers satisfied with the current fare on offer and therefore on-premise establishments see no need to diversify their selection and create more work for themselves?

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Bethnal’s Pale Ale

I don’t have enough data to answer this conclusively.  Consumption of micro-brews on-premise is increasing rapidly; 79% over the previous 12 month period according to the Publicans Morning Advertiser’s article Demystifying the Craft Beer Movement by Jessica Mason.  Still, craft beers only represents 1.9% of the total beer volume according to Mason.  There is still a lot of hard work to be done before craft beers represent a sizable chunk of the UK beer market.

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Having worked in distribution/import in the US, it was common place for the big players to offer incentives or kickbacks to licensees in order that they carry their products,  no matter what laws might have been on the book to the contrary.   It often made it challenging  working for smaller players who didn’t have this type of “marketing” budget and to find those accounts who saw the bigger picture–that offering a better beverage selection wins repeat customers and new business.

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This brings me back to an analysis I did of the Australian beer sector a few years back.   According to data it appeared that Australia was on the verge of becoming a wine drinking nation.  Wine consumption was increasing, while  beer consumption was dropping significantly to 66 year lows according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)(Sun Herald, 4/2/2014, Philip Hudson).

The incomplete, raw data supported what the “experts” conjectured;  consumer tastes were changing and Australians were set to become a nation of wine drinkers .  After digging a little deeper, however, the conclusion made didn’t match with other pieces of the puzzle.

First, it was identified that due to a wine glut, wine prices were depressed.  Beer prices on the other hand were relatively high, especially in on-premise environments mostly due to Australia’s excruciatingly high  level of taxation on beer–among the highest in the world according to Carlton & United Breweries corporate affairs director Jeremy Griffith.  (Sun Herald, 4/2/2014, Philip Hudson).

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Second, the vast majority of pubs continued to pour the same boring, flavorless mainstream beers that they had for years.  The big players often paying for their tap lines in some fashion or other, to keep the standard fare on tap despite hardy demand for craft beers according to Fairfax Media. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/competition-probe-circles-beer-makers-lion-carlton–united-20140530-399qj.html#ixzz3CS6xL1fY

The moral of the story, the trade hasn’t been responsive or encouraging to the changing taste of consumers.  People have been left to voting with their palates and opt for wine or something else.

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Back in the UK, the last several years have seen incredible growth in the UK independent beer movement, but it will be interesting to see how far the movement will go.

One of the most Popular American Micro-Brews, Sierra Nevada

One of the most Popular American Micro-Brews, Sierra Nevada

Will the big guys start making more interesting brews and steal the independent’s thunder?  Or, will independent breweries continue little by little to chip at the big boys?  Time will tell, but I am hoping beer lovers continue to find greater choice and quality both in the pubs and in their local shops.

 

Chilling Your Favorite Whisky with Rocks from Vermont

Teroforma Whisky Stones 6 WebHave a friend who is a Whisky aficionado and don’t know what to get him/her? Or, are you looking for something to add to your own Whisky experience?  Whisky Stones are a modern take on an old Scandinavian tradition whereby cold stones are used to chill down the temperature of spirits.

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co-Founder Andrew Hellman came up with the idea of making Whisky Stones after he found a bag of loose stones in his own grandfather’s liquor cabinett and learned the tradition of how they were used to chill down alcohol.

Whisky Stones are handcrafted in Vermont from soapstone by the Vermont Soapstone company, one of America’s oldest soapstone workshops in the country. Soapstone, a talc-schist comprised mostly of the mineral talc has the benefit of being flavor neutral, non-absorbent, and can retain either heat or cold for a relatively long period of time.  The stones are light weight with no sharp edges, so drinkers don’t have to be afraid of the stones damaging their glasses.

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Falling for Whisk-e-y in Fall

Now that we are heading into colder weather, what could be better for a nippy Autumn night, but a fabulous whisk(e)y?  Do you like peaty flavors in your whisk(e)y?  Something sweeter and more complex? A little fruit maybe?

Below, are some Whiskies that that might fit what your palate: italy 281 Made at Kilchoman, the first distillery to be established on Islay in 125 years and one of a few still practicing floor malting.  Kilchoman has brought back the tradition of the farm distillery to Islay by being the only to do all parts of the production process at the distillery from growing their own barley to bottling.

Their spirits are matured in first fill bourbon casks from Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky and first fill Oloroso sherry butts from Miguel Martin in Jerez, Spain.

This 2008 single cask release has plenty of butterscotch, vanilla, some spicy fruit and smoky, peaty notes.  Logging in at 61% alc, the only downside to this whisky is that you can only find this bottling at the Whisk(e)y Exchange.

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Easier to obtain, but no less good, the 2007 vintage is made by using 80% Bourbon barrels and the balance from Sherry Butts.  This is the oldest whisk(e)y available at the time of any given release.  The 2007 vintage has salty peat, clove, vanilla, nutmeg and smoked fruit notes.

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From the Highlands in Scotland, Balblair has been making Scotch since 1790. Balblair is unique in its production of only vintage Scotch, signifying the year it was made.

Balblair is typically fruity, smooth and complex.  Their 1975 bottling made 100% with Sherry Casks is no exception.  The complex, smokey, spicy-sweet aromas are followed by honey, citrus, vanilla and spice notes on the palate, finishing long with a touch of coconut, vanilla and smoke.

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Ok, this is rare and retailing for 2,500 GBP, so not exactly affordable. But, it is too delightful not to write about after having tasted it!  On the nose, lots of fresh fruit aromas; citrus, stone fruit and some herbal, mint notes.  On the palate some toffee, spicy fruit, a touch of apple and herbal notes.  Very long on the finish, ending with smoky, vanilla flavors.  So perfectly integrated and at its peak, this is worth seeking out.

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AnCnoc is another Highland whisky, also typically fruity with complex, spicy flavors and aromas.  Lots of fresh citrus and apple flavors with some nutmeg and ginger, finishing with notes of smoke and vanilla.

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Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr was considered to be one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry, combining classic with modern bourbon making techniques and innovating climate control ageing in warehouses.  E.H. Taylor Jr’s Small Batch is made by hand and aged in the very warehouses the Colonel constructed over a century ago.

Full of apricot, peach and butterscotch flavors this bourbon has sweet popped corn/salted caramel notes.  The long finish ends with some smoky tobacco flavors. italy 290

Rock Hill is a “Rye Recipe” Kentucky Straight Bourbon.  Bourbon in general must be made from at least 51% corn, meaning that this “rye recipe” bourbon just has more rye than the average bourbon.  In addition, Bourbon can not be distilled to more than 160 proof, nor can additional flavorings or colors can be added at any time.  Bourbon must be aged for a minimum of 2 years in new charred oak barrels.

The Rock Hill is very spicy and nutty, with dried red fruit, caramel, toffee and almond paste flavors.  Smooth and honey-like on the finish finishing with notes of butterscotch, toffee and almond.

 

Great Whisky and Food Pairings

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There is always a lot of talk among foodies regarding wine and food pairings, but it isn’t often that one connects whisky as a possible partner to both savory and sweet dishes.  At a recent tasting, I had the opportunity to taste a variety of whiskies paired with everything from Turkish Delight, Chocolate, oysters to sausage.  Below are some pictures of these pairings:

Dried sausage with a wee dram of Kilchoman

Dried sausage with a wee dram of Kilchoman Machir Bay

This pairing probably is one of the more obvious ones. The meaty sausage flavor combined with the peaty, iodine smokey notes of this Islay delight is sublime and a nice alternative to the normal tapas combos.

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Turkish Delight with the Balblair 2002

Turkish delight with whisky?  Beats me, but somehow the sweet rose flavors of the Turkish Delight took the Balblair 02 scotch to another level.

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Glenmorangie Signet paired with Artisan du Chocolat truffles

The Glenmorangie Signet paired with a variety of chocolates courtesy of Artisan du Chocholat of London was heavenly.  Ok, I could have stayed here all night long.  The chocolates were off the hook and the scotch which had sweet notes of chocolate, orange and coffee note. Glenmorangie uses a chocolate malted barley for this whisky, which they attribute to an important component to making this pairing work.

 

 

Top Martinis at Dukes Hotel Bar

Dukes Hotel Bar is one of the most famous martini bars in the world.   Of course, there is the allure of the bar’s connection to legendary James Bond Author, Ian Fleming, which adds a certain mystique to the bar.  The hotel has a romantic air, located in a quiet nook in Mayfair; the elegant woodwork giving the hotel a cozy, refined air from a bygone era.

But, the Martinis and other personalized cocktails are what draws the most hard-core martini imbibers.  The martinis at Dukes are made using the best and freshest ingredients; lemons shipped in from Italy and a constantly changing list of the most interesting, cutting edge hand-crafted spirits no doubt keeps its clientele happily returning.

Besides the decision to focus on small interesting, micro-distilled spirits as opposed to the big brands, the charismatic head bartender Alessandro Palazzi along with the help of his capable staff, have to be credited with adding personality and “theater” in its martini making.  At Dukes, martinis are made tableside with the use of small carts.   Patrons get to be entertained watching their own master piece made right before their eyes all while enjoying the banter from the showmen who work at Dukes.

The above video depicts a visit to Duke’s interviewing Alessandro Palazzi about Dukes, his use of Sacred Spirits, and other micro-distilled spirits in their personalized cocktails.

A Visit to Sacred Distillery

Sacred Distillery started in 2009 and was one of the first, new distilleries in London to establish itself in nearly 200 years.  Now, one of the smallest micro-distillers in London, size hasn’t stopped Sacred from getting its line of hand-crafted, organic spirits distributed in Spain, Australia, New Zealand as well as to over 35 states in the US.

What makes this producer so unique, is its use of vacuum distillation in lieu of the more traditional pot still.  Instead of cooked flavors, drinkers can experience the pure essence of botanicals like frankincense or the juicy fruit flavors of, say, pink grapefruit.   This difference can only be appreciated when comparing a gin tonic made with Sacred’s gin to a traditionally made gin.  If you like fresh flavors that assault all senses, then this is the way to go!

On a recent trip to the US, I found Sacred Gin featured at Macintosh Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina.   I had the bartender muddle fresh mint leaves and cucumber along with some fresh squeezed lime juice followed by tonic water and Sacred Gin.

Before I knew it, my family was ordering the drink, too.  It was so refreshing with such purity; the perfect drink on a hot, sticky July day in Charleston.  Problems only began when the restaurant ran out of Sacred and had to substitute for another, more traditionally made gin.  The result was near mutiny at the table.

I am now a believer in their use of vacuum distillation…But, don’t believe me, go out and find a bottle.  In the meantime, I have taped my visit to Sacred Distillery above so you can find out a bit more about their operation.

I want to thank Ian Hart for his time and for letting my team come and film.

Apologies for any sound issues, this is my first video project and I need to resolve better how to get good quality sound in noisy, windy places.

 

 

Mixers and Other Non-Alcoholic Options

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Along with the premium food, boutique wine and micro-distilling movements has been the development of a premium soft drink and mixer category.  What a joy! Finally high quality mixers to go with the newly available super premium spirits.

It is comforting to know that when going out with friends, there doesn’t have to be a compromise on flavor, especially when going the evening alcohol free and the “mixer” or sparkling fruit drink suddenly becomes the focal point.  With drink-driving limits constantly dropping and that seemingly constant battle of the bulge that puts empty high calorie drinks in the crosshairs, a night on the town can seem like an exercise in temptation with no upside.

Now, consumers can find everything from organic, all natural beverages, with a variation of sweet to low sugar and no sugar options.  Best, the variety of options and flavors abound.

Tonic Water

Today, there are plenty of tonic waters on the market fitting a variety of price points, calorie counts and natural or not so natural ingredient lists.  The real beauty of tonic water is that it is flavorful alone.  And better still, whether you are at a social function or a business one, no one really needs to know whether you are “drinking” or not.

The new “slimline” or diet versions that can range from 0 calories to up to 23 calories for 200 ml mean that you can get all the flavor without unneeded calories at a range of price points.

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On the premium end of the range, the Fentimans Light Tonic Water is big on bold, botanical flavors and light on the calories.  Made with sugar and a combination of Quinine, Lemongrass, kaffir lime leave and Juniper berries there are just 23 calories per 200 ml or 7 ounces.  Together with gin, this makes a sublime gin and tonic.  On its own, it is delicious and refreshing.https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=27cf65b508&view=att&th=1407d4f4e6949283&attid=0.2&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P88i4mXXRX_fiXqgzsAE5ix&sadet=1376920521050&sads=--qpMeMje4pswAnK9fmisTAv1-8

 

Q Tonic Water is also a premium tonic water.  It is made with quinine sourced from the Peruvian Andes and sweetened with organic agave.   The sweetness perceives less on the palate than with other tonic waters on the market.  This tonic water’s flavor had a heavier focus on quinine and had a creamy effervescence.  There are 25 calories per 5 oz serving.

A Cucumber Mixer

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Qcumber, not to be confused with the company who produces Q Drinks Company’s Tonic Water listed above, is a cucumber flavored sparkling drink, made from all natural ingredients.  Sucrose is the sweetener here.  All in, there are about 67 calories in every 250 ml portion.  If you like cucumber, this drink is for you.  It captures the essence of cucumber and is great alone or as a mixer.  As there are no preservatives here, Qcumber needs to be consumed within 3 days of opening.

Non-Alcoholic Fruit Press Drinks

If you are in the mood for a fruit cocktail drink minus the alcohol,  Cawston Press makes some amazing sparkling fruit drinks.  Their drinks are not from concentrate, but are made uniquely from pressed fruit.  Cawston doesn’t use artificial sweeteners or preservatives.

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The Apple Rhubarb tastes so fresh, both sweet and tart, it is about 32 calories per 100ml.

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The Cawston Press Sparkling Ginger Beer perceives a touch sweeter on the palate than the Apple Rhubarb and has 34 calories per 100 ml.  Simply made with pressed apple juice, lemon juice, ginger and chili extracts, this is a great take on a classic.

 

Some Cool Snacks to Munch On…

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When you are having friends over for drinks, it is always good to have some good crunchy snacks to serve.  The selection in recent years has increased significantly, and now it can be a bit of a dilemma deciding what to buy.

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At a recent beverage I show, I was pleasantly surprised when I sampled these crisps/potato chips.  As a fan of all types of crisps, tasting the Salty Dog Flame Grilled Steak crisps was a revelation.  Smoky, savory and unique in flavor, I couldn’t stop eating them.  These aren’t your run of the mill bbq or chili flavored chips.  The Flame Grilled Steak crisps have the tanginess of Worcester sauce and are very addicting!

Guiltless Gourmet Chili Lime Tortilla Chips (no pic, sorry) are spicy with a touch of lime tang.  The best part, these chips are baked and significantly lower in calories, therefore, healthier than other comparable chips.   These are my go-to snacks, not just when I am dieting, but whenever I want a crunchy corn based treat.

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Popchips come in a variety of flavors, but even the plain sea salt ones are delicious.  Calorie-wise, Popchips are great lower-cal crunchy treat.

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Posh Hot Chilli Pork Crackling are pork rinds with a bit of a punch.  I have had spicier pork rinds before, but these were spicy without being over the top and the texture was a bit more substantial than other pork rinds on the market.

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ProperCorn Sour Cream & Chive is a delicious alternative to crisps.  Savory, chive popcorn, a delicious, unique twist on popcorn. ProperCorn also has range of other flavors worth trying out.

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Roberto & Giuseppe’s Pastinos Sicilian Lemon & Cracked Black Pepper are made with 100% real Italian pasta.  This is a really unique, lemony crunchy treat that has comparable calories per serving to crisps, but is less greasy, unless comparing to popped or baked chips, of course.

Exploring Terroir…

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The term “terroir” for many is confusing. What does the word terroir mean, after all?  Well, terroir could really be used to describe the growing environment for almost any agricultural product; potatoes, wheat and lately tea comes to mind, besides the obvious connection many make to wine grape production.  The word terroir derives from the French word terre or earth, but that only tells part of the story.

Terroir is a word that has been co-opted into the wine lexicon to convey how factors such as soil, climate, and geography combined with the grape’s genetics create a unique wine, especially marked with flavors and aromas that are distinct as a result of a combination of these factors.   “Terroir Wines” are often so distinct, with such a sense of place and character, that its origins can often be discerned even when tasting blind.

In fact, many of the most famous wine regions such as Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne are based on this idea of terroir.  These designated areas have vineyard areas that reflect similar soil types, geographical factors and common varietals, leading to an expected flavor and aroma profile.

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Terroir producers and their estates often have certain attributes.  First, they happen to have great vineyards that exist in a microclimate(s) that encourages the growth of concentrated, healthy fruit.  The soil often has good drainage and is mineral rich.   These growers respect their vineyards and soil, understanding that without great fruit, there can be no great wine.

In general,  terroir producers use the minimum of pesticides and herbicides in the vineyard, if any at all.  Taking weather condition factors into account, terroir producers avoid anything but the most natural of methods in the vineyard to prevent disease and louse infestation, believing that the least intervention in the vineyards produces wines that reflect the environment from which it comes.  Likewise, in the cellar, these producers do the minimal to alter the wines; all the gimmicks to enhance and enrich is avoided.

To understand terroir wines, it may be best to look at wines that are “anti” terroir, or wines that lack a sense of place.  These wines are easy to find.  To sum it up, these are wines that could be made in a number of countries around the world and to borrow a phrase from Max von Kunow of Weingut von Hövel don’t “show their face in the glass.”  Rather, these wines can display an “international” style that while often technically correct, could almost be termed generic as their exact origins are often impossible to discern.

You may have guessed already which wines dominate the wine landscape.  Yes, the truth is these generic, albeit, often technically correct wines have flooded the market.  But this doesn’t mean we should give up on finding wines that show true typicity of terroir, it simply means it takes more work…and drinking, to find these terroir gems.

After going to many tastings recently, I compiled a short list of terroir wines, focusing on small, family owned estates; some known, some almost unknown.  One of these estates, Jurtschitsch Winery, is an Austrian producer that particularly excels at producing top Grϋner Veltliner and Riesling; varietals that somehow seem to mirror the soil particularly well .

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Located in Langenlois, in the Kamptal, Jurtschitsch produces wines that scream terroir.  In fact, their motto as espoused by winemaker Stephanie Hasselbach seems to be in making wines that express “terroir(s) without compromise.”  The estate has been organic since 2009 and when possible uses natural yeasts for fermentation.

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Their Grϋner Veltliners and Rieslings showed amazing minerality with each vineyard expressing a different soil type; the Loiserberg with mica schist, Dechant with loess, the Schenkenbichl site expressing gföhl gneiss, Käferberg with amphilbolite and the Lamm vineyard which has a loam-lime rich soil.

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I tasted the 2012 Loiserberg Riesling, 2012 Zӧbing Heiligenstein Riesling and the 2012 Loiserberg Grϋner Veltliner and found intense minerality in every wine.  The Loiserberg Erste Lage Riesling fermented with its own native yeast, has intense concentration of citrus and stone fruit flavors, racy acidity, finishing long.

2012 Zӧbing Heiligenstein Riesling is especially unique given the special soil of quartz that is found in this vineyard.  The vineyard, Heiligenstein or Holy Stone, is known for producing especially mineral driven, rich Rieslings that are often fermented dry, but retain plenty of fruit concentration.  Of course the estate produces other interesting wines, not to mention to compelling reds.

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Although “New World” wines often get a bad rap for lacking typicity of terroir, Lawson’s Dry Hills located in Marlborough, New Zealand has been able to produce wines with complexity and a “sense of place.” Of special interest has been the 2012 Reserve Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc, which was grown on a combination of alluvial, stoney topsoil and limestone-clay soil.

This wine is very aromatic with tropical and citrus notes and a very long, minerally finish.   Lawson departs nicely from the often under-ripe, over-cropped vegetal flavors that are sometimes associated with New World Sauvignon Blancs. The rest of their line-up is also very interesting.

Champagne regions is renowned for producing wines that reflect its very specific growing conditions and soil composition.  The Côte des Bar is known for its almost full-bodied roundness and complexity, the Côte des Blancs is more delicate and elegant, with a chalky soil that is particularly suited to Chardonnay.  The Montagne des Reims is suited best Pinot Noir and produces powerful, rich wines.  In the Marne Valley, Pinot Meunier dominates and produces flowery, fruity wines.

It could be argued that it is independent Grower-Champagnes Producers who are able to best demonstrate the different terroirs of Champagne best.

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Benoit Tarlant, winemaker at Tarlant

When thinking of terroir and Champagne, Tarlant Champagne comes to mind.  The Tarlant family has been involved in grape growing since 1687 and by 1780 started planting their own vineyards.  The estate consists of 4 hectares on 4 different crus, breaking down to 55 parcels located in the villages of Oeuilly, Boursault, St. Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé.

The soils consists of Chalk, Sparnacien (Clay-limestone), Sand, limestone and small pebbles.  The estate uses organic and biodynamic concepts in the vineyard and boasts vines that are on average 31 years old.  Most of Tarlant’s Champagnes are between 0 to 6 grams per liter dosage and have spent 5 years on the lees with none going through malolactic fermentation.

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Tarlant’s labels are information packed

Tarlant’s  ”Terroir Revelations” include La Vigne D’Or  (100% Pinot Meunier) from 50 year old vines and grown on sparnacian soil and La Vigne D’Antan made from 100% Chardonnay and grown on sand.   La Vigne D’Antan is one of the only wines in Champagne to be made from ungrafted vines.

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These terroir driven wines are truly special, however, the whole Tarlant line-up is exceptional, and as the estate is a pioneer of non-dosé wines it is definitely worth trying the Zero Rose (85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir) the fruit grown on limestone, sand, chalk and sparnacian soils  and the Brut Nature (33% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, 33% Pinot Meunier) from sparnacian, limestone, sand and chalk.

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Champagne Alexandre Le Brun, Vallee de la Marne, is a 3 hectare estate that sources its grapes from parcels in eight different villages.  One of its vineyard’s holds Grand Cru status and the estate only uses natural yeasts.

The Blanc de Meunier is extra brut, 100% Pinot Meunier has 4 grams of dosage and very pretty, floral and wild strawberries notes.

The Blanc de Blancs is made up of the 2007 vintage also extra brut made from 100% chardonnay with 6 grams of dosage and comes from Choilly.

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Karam Winery, one of a few wineries located in Southern Lebanon, located in the Jezzine area on the tip of the southern part of the country.  Wine grapes have been grown in Jezzine for a few thousands of years, long before the Romans came to Lebanon.  Karam’s vineyards have altitudes up to 1300 meters (4300 ft) and have a number of different soil types, from gravely to deeper, black soils. imbibe 077

Two wines, in particular, worth checking out from this estate are the Corpus Christi and the St. JohnCorpus Christi is made from a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and has spent a year in the barrel.   Ripe flavors of black fruits; black plum, black berry and cherry fruit, velvety mouth feel with soft tannins on the palate.  The St. John is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Touriga.   This blend offers some unique flavors, combined with the black plum, licorice, a touch of cedar and leather flavors.

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Dirk van der Niepoort

I recently tasted through the Niepoort Port line-up and was reminded again, how terroir plays a big role in the making of top ports.  I was able to taste through the line-up with winemaker-owner Dirk van der Niepoort, the fifth generation of this family owned estate.  Dirk’s motto is to respect the terroirs of the Douro and is increasingly using more organic concepts in the vineyard.

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One of the most exceptional ports at the tasting was the 2009 Late Bottled Vintage, a super concentrated, very ripe, tannic port that just started shedding some of its baby fat.  It was loaded with jammy black fruit flavors and a touch of chocolate.  The 2005 Coheita was full of dried fruit, nutty and spice flavors with some hints of chocolate.

The 2001 Colheita exudes more of that spicy, dried prune aroma as is expected with ports that have started developing.   The 2011 Bioma Vinha Velha Vintage Port (cask sample), a single vineyard vintage port, rich, deep purple in color, not only are there jammy black fruit flavors, but an interesting floral, lavender and light cedar flavor that makes this port compelling even in extreme youth. 144

It goes without saying that the 1970 Vintage Port was spectacular.  1970 was an amazing year for port; very refined, dried prunes, hint of chocolate, spice and pepper.

Give terroir wines a try!

 

 

 

Christian Vogt of Karthäuserhof Winery Talks about 2012

Karthäuserhof is one of the top producer’s in Germany; arguably making some of country’s top dry and noble sweet wines.  But, Karthäuserhof is no flash in the pan.  Winemaking has had an extremely long tradition at this estate, a history that goes back many hundreds of years.  In fact, artifacts have been found on the premises that indicate wine production took place during the Roman times and records describe wine production on the estate as early as 1223. 

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The name Karthäuserhof comes from the word Karthäuser, which refers to the Carthusian monks who worked and owned the estate from 1335 to 1803.  As a result of the Peace of Luneville, negotiated by Bonaparte and Talleyrand, properties all over Germany were secularized, or were taken away from the religious orders who had prior ownership.  As a result, in 1803, the French took possession of the Karthäuserhof estate.

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The tasting room on the estate

In 1811, Valentin Leonardy, the first generation of the family currently running Karthäuserhof, acquired the property at an auction in Paris.  It wasn’t until Valentin’s grandson, Wilhelm Rautenstrauch, however, that Karthäuserhof started to develop a reputation for producing great wines.

In 1986, Christoph Tyrrell, the 6th generation, took over the estate. Under Christoph’s direction, the estate has come to produce truly world class wines, having been selected as Producer of the Year in 1997 by Feinschmecker Magazine and in 2005 by Gault-Millau.  After 16 years at the helm, ownership was transferred within the family to Christoph’s cousin, Albert Behler in 2012.

Vital Statistics:

·         Christian Vogt is the winemaker and manages the cellar.

·         The Karthäuserhofberg is a monopole vineyard made up of a decomposed Devon slate soil and is planted 90% to Riesling and 10% to Pinot Blanc, average vine age 35 years. 

·         The estate produces 12,000 cases from 19 hectares of vineyard with a breakdown of 85% dry and 15% sweet.

·         The estate uses a combination cultured and wild yeasts.