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Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

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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Here are some posts and articles related to food and drink worth a read from various sources on the web:

  • The Truth on Olive Oil Health - a post from Tom Mueller about Dr. Mary Flynn and her work to “…start separating the wheat from the chaff in olive oil health, by building a canon of solid scientific information, and debugging a number of widespread olive oil misconceptions.”
  • How to Eat a Porcupine - not only one of the best post titles but a beautifully written travelogue about the emotional progression of eating bushmeat in a foreign land. (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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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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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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Domaine de Montbourgeau Macvin du JuraTime out from cheese for a brief note about one of our new favorite wines, a curious liquid called Macvin du Jura. Ours is made by Nicole Deriaux, the 3rd generation winemaker at Domaine de Montbourgeau, a wonderful little winery whose L’Etoile we have stocked in the past.

The lovely elixir that is Macvin du Jura is made from the juice of a combination of red and white grapes to which the local Marc (“mac”) or grape brandy is added. This addition fortifies the sweet juice with alcohol and stops fermentation. The “wine” is then aged in oak casks for several years to develop and integrate the flavors. (more…)

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A Matter of Taste

I recently read a blog post titled “What’s the Point?”. I was directed to it via the New York Times Diner’s Journal Blog.

It’s worth a read but the opening paragraph gives you the gist:

I didn’t start this blog as an outlet for my rants but I have to complain a little bit. I’m over winemakers who have any agenda other than taste; those who want to make ‘natural wines’ or who set out to make wines which embrace some sort of philosophy. I know that we are all Children of the Earth, that we have only one planet and that we should treat the soil and groundwater (and each other) with respect. …but the next time I meet with a winemaker who claims to be driven by the will to be a ‘Steward of the Land’ and to ‘Express the soil’ I may just have to excuse myself. Call me ‘old fashioned’ but isn’t taste the point?

While I empathize with the frustration of being marketed to, doesn’t everyone who makes something have an agenda or a philosophy that drives what they do? Would you really want it any other way? Most producers I know set out to make the best tasting product they can, but they also consider the means they employ to get there. In my mind, it is imperative that retailers and consumers alike evaluate products on the basis of both taste and philosophy. (more…)

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