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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Bandol Blanc from Château de PibarnonWe’re welcoming the first sunny weeks of spring with magnums of elegant white wine from Provence. This minuscule production Bandol Blanc from Château de Pibarnon is a blend of mostly Clairette and Bourboulenc with some Roussanne, Ugni Blanc and small amounts of other white grapes including Viognier. Wonderfully aromatic with pear, peach and acacia flower aromas, it’s dry and fairly rich on the palate with more peachy-apricot fruit and a bit of salty spice. This lovely wine really lingers with a long, smooth finish. (more…)

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Quinta do Infantado Tawny PortPorto, or “port” as it is known in English, is made in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal. There are many grapes port-makers are allowed to use, but the most common are Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Touriga Francesca and Touriga Nacional.

Port was a byproduct of the ongoing wars between France and England. Without wines from France, the English were forced to look elsewhere to satisfy demand. Portugal provided a good alternative, but the long boat trip from Portugal often resulted in spoiled wine. To combat spoilage, winemakers began adding high-alcohol aguardente to their wines to stop fermentation, leaving a more sturdy, higher alcohol wine with some residual sugar. These new fortified wines could make the trip no problem! (more…)

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El Maestro Sierra Amontillado SherrySherry (“Xerez” in Spanish) is made in the region of the same name on the southern tip of Spain near Gibraltar. There, Palomino grapes are grown on chalky soils called albariza. The grapes are fermented into dry wines, then fortified and placed into large, 500L oak barrels. Some of these barrels develop a thick layer of yeast called flor (literally “flower”).

Flor is naturally occurring, unpredictable, and can’t be induced or controlled once it occurs! When it does form, the wine ages underneath without oxidizing, resulting in what is known as a fino Sherry. If the flor forms, but then dies off or doesn’t develop, the wine, if deemed rich and robust enough, is fortified a bit more and then allowed to slowly oxidize and become an amontillado. If a flor does not form at all, the wine will be fortified further and will be aged in wooden barrels to become a richer and darker oloroso Sherry. In the case of amontillado and oloroso styles of Sherry, exposure to oxygen turns the wine a coppery color, and encourages the development of toasty, nutty aromas. Yum. (more…)

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Millésime BioThis year marks the twentieth anniversary of Millésime Bio which has arguably become France’s most compelling organic wine exposition. As in previous years, it once again convened in Languedoc’s Montpellier and I had the opportunity to experience the show for the fourth consecutive year. For me, it’s a pause from the retail side of wine buying – a chance to revisit the producer/supplier side of the job. As usual, it involved the intersection of cultural, linguistic, visual, and visceral stimuli that allowed me to hone and redefine my palate as a taster.  I discovered a few producers whose wines that I had never tasted, and gained further insight into some of the producers that we currently support. Below are some of the highlights that I hope will trickle into our selection soon! (more…)

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I Clivi Ribolla Spumante

Wondering how to ring in the New Year? Our Cambridge wine buyer, Gemma, recommends welcoming 2013 with Az. Agr. I Clivi Spumante, a bubbly made from the native varietal Ribolla Gialla, cultivated in Italy’s prestigious Collio growing appellation. The grapes are 100% organically farmed and no sugars are added. (more…)

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Roagna Barbaresco Pajè

The holidays are in full swing – the season of festive gatherings and dinners with friends and family! These occasions often require a few different approaches when deciding what to uncork. Larger parties call for versatile, inexpensive wines to appease a broader range of palates and cuisines. For these purposes, our Cambridge store offers a good selection on the “$15.95 and Under” shelf. For more intimate gatherings this weekend and next week, Gemma, wine buyer for our Cambridge shop, weighs in with two special suggestions - one white and one red – both from Italy. (more…)

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Ihsan and Valerie Gurdal

Ihsan and Valerie own and run the Formaggio Kitchen family of stores. As is true of any folks passionate about their jobs, work intertwines throughout all aspects of their lives. Their travels – frequent and far-flung – are largely dictated by the food producers they want to meet or to revisit, by rumors of new and exciting foodstuffs and/or food conferences such as “Cheese,” the biennial Slow Food festival held in Bra, Italy. Their larder and wine cellar are stocked with favorite items they have imported or new items they are testing out. Even when on holiday, they are in direct communication with all three stores, coordinating deliveries from Europe and generally checking to make sure everything is on track. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Wine and CheeseAs tradition goes, Pinot Noir or Beaujolais are typically served with turkey and its many accompaniments. That said, it’s not always so easy to predict what will appear at the Thanksgiving feast, whether it’s Aunt Liz’s sweet potatoes with marshmallows, Uncle Mike’s maple-bacon Brussels sprouts, or Zia Della’s baked ziti. Such varied cuisine calls for Zelig-like wines. They must accommodate the potential for sweet, salty, savory, and bitter all in the same bite and therefore require plenty of freshness and acidity with the ability to cleanse the palate. However, they must also show enough ripeness to work with sweetness.

The following are a few selections that meet the above criteria and will drink well alongside your Thanksgiving dinner. A discount of 10% will be offered on six or twelve bottles of these featured wines. (more…)

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This week we’re highlighting one of our favorite French liqueurs, the inky black currant flavored Crème de Cassis de Dijon. These sweet little bottles of crème de cassis are made in Burgundy by Briottet, a company run by the Briottet family in the town of Dijon since 1836.

Briottet Crème de CassisBriottet makes their crème de cassis with only “Noir de Bourgogne” black currants. The word “crème” signifies that the liqueur is made from macerated, real fruit rather than flavorings and, the addition of the name Dijon means that the currants (“cassis”) used were grown only in the commune of Dijon. These currants are picked quickly at their peak ripeness and are immediately immersed in alcohol where they macerate for 3 months. Sugar is then added to balance out the tart flavor of the currants – it also makes the liqueur syrupy. Upon completion, crème de cassis has about the same alcohol content as port. (more…)

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Giovanna Tiezzi of Pacina (left) + Gemma

With Giovanna Tiezzi of Pacina

As Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge’s wine buyer, the long-awaited arrival of spring means traveling to Verona for Italy’s most significant wine expo, VinItaly. The enormity and intensity of the show are both invigorating and challenging as it offers an expansive view of Italy’s wine scene, not only with thousands of indigenous grape varietals, but also with a genuine diversity of both terroirs and winemaking styles. Feeling overwhelmed is unavoidable. (more…)

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