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Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

Dom Pérignon statue in Épernay in the Moët et Chandon courtyard.

Dom Pérignon statue in Épernay

In part one of this sparkling wine series, we explored the many ways wines can become bubbly. In this post, we focus just on Champagne. The Champagne region of France is considered to be the home of the world’s finest sparkling wines. Champagne is so famous, in fact, that it’s common for folks to refer to any bubbly wine as Champagne, however true Champagne is produced only within the boundaries of the designated province. European Union law forbids the use of the word Champagne on wines made anywhere else, as do the laws of many countries (including the United States). (more…)

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Bubbly

When we pop the cork of a sparkling wine at a party a flurry of bubbles are released. We love sipping those bubbles, but how do they get in the bottle? There are several ways that it can happen.

Sparkling wine is bubbly because carbon dioxide gas, a byproduct of fermentation, is trapped within the wine. During fermentation yeast feeds on the grape juice’s natural sugars and produces heat, alcohol, and carbon dioxide. During the initial fermentation, this gas is released into the air. When wine is allowed (or encouraged!) to undergo a second fermentation within the bottle the carbon dioxide gas is trapped inside in the form of bubbles.

The following methods are a few different ways to produce bubbles in a bottle of wine. There is a lot more information behind each of these techniques, but this is a good start to get the general idea. We’ll start with the oldest method and move forward through time and technological advances. (more…)

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VinItalyThis year, my trip to Italy’s most renowned wine show, VinItaly, took on a different emphasis and dynamic. In previous years, navigating thronged pavilions of growers and tasters and trailing fellow importers was at center stage. This time, while those goals remained important, the focus was on introducing Jessica, a talented and emerging wine buyer for the shop, to many of the people that stand behind the Italian wines on our shelves. (more…)

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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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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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