Monthly Archives: July 2010

Wine Review: Cougar Crest Cabernet Franc

When the word Cabernet is uttered most people immediately assume the reference is to Cabernet Sauvignon. But there’s another Cabernet, the father to Cabernet Sauvignon if you will…Cabernet Franc.

Cougar Crest Tasting Room

Cougar Crest Tasting Room

Often found in Bordeaux or Bordeaux style blends from other regions of the world, Cabernet Franc is mostly used as a blending grape with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is one of the two parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon (Sauvignon Blanc being the other) and is lighter in style. Depending on the region it is grown in, it can have a peppery aroma with nodes of tobacco, raspberries, cassis and coffee. There are only a few areas of the world where it is made into a 100% varietal wine, the oldest being the Loire Valley in France and mostly recently the United States in Washington, California, and even North Carolina.

I have personally always been a fan of Cabernet Franc but it can be a challenging grape for others to wrap their heads around. One of the wines that turned me onto 100% Cabernet Franc was Cougar Crest’s Cabernet Franc from Walla Walla, Washington.

The 2006 vintage was one of the better vintages yet. Established in 2001, Cougar Crest is a small winery in one of the smallest wine regions in Washington – Walla Walla. Owners Deborah and David Hansen have been growing grapes for years in the appellation and selling them to other wineries in the area. Moving into winemaking, they established a winery and tasting room near the Walla Walla airport and produced 900 cases the first year.

The 2006 Cabernet Franc displays ripe fruit when first opened with dark cherries, chocolate, tobacco and coffee. The wine develops as air is exposed to it and displays different flavors and aromas throughout the course of the night. The tannins actually come through further down the line as it starts to show more pepper, dried currant, herbs, and mocha with a silky, buttery like finish. It is the perfect wine to pair with heavier dishes…steak or even traditional heavy Italian cuisines.

It’s no secret this wine is great, check out the ratings. We personally give it 2 1/2 stars on our 3 star scale.

Ratings:

  • 92 points, Wine Spectator
  • 2009 Double Gold, Florida International
  • 2009 Double Gold, International Eastern

It’s a Throwdown!

Preparing the Red Wines for the Event

The Ultimate Wine Throwdown: an event to see and be seen, the place to find your new favorite wine, to meet fellow wine lovers, and most of all, taste 30 of the best wines your local distributors have to offer!

Don’t worry, “Throwdown” has nothing to do with chugging box’ o wine or gettin’ down with your bad self – but it’s no snob party either. Decanted Wines in Naples, FL hosts this event once a quarter in order to get a true customer’s opinion as to what should be on the shelves, and what shouldn’t. Decanted works with a number of distributors with diverse wine portfolios, typically there are 6 to 8 sales representatives pouring up to 5 wines each. They choose their wines based on performance the previous quarter, new releases and best value. Tasters sample a wide price range, from the $13 Apaltagna Carmenere to the $79 Cakebread Cabernet (the winner this last event). The distributors also have an incentive to show their best since the tasters vote on their favorite wine and favorite presenter.

Distributors Pour a Sampling of 30 Different Wines

Your incentive to vote: the raffle. This time it was a bottle of 2003 Jarvis Lake William Blend ($83) and the lighthearted Decanted T-shirts ($15).

If you have missed the previous Throwdowns, they occurred in February, May and this past week – July 22nd. The next Throwdown is tentatively scheduled for late October. As the wine distributors are voted on at each event, the top distributor for each event steps out until the season finale, the Throwdown of all Throwdowns, The Winner’s Circle Final Four which is scheduled for December.

Cost the Throwdown is $25 per person and includes 30 wines available to taste as well as heavy appetizers catered by South Street. There is special pricing on mix and match 6 packs and cases of the showcased wines.

This gives you an idea of the wide variety of wines poured at the Ultimate Wine Throwdown

Truchard Chardonnay
Cirqu du Vin Jester Blend
Terra Valentine Cabernet
Cakebread Cabernet
Russian Jack Sauvignon Blanc
Dominio IV Pinot Noir
Dom. Monpertuis Cote du Rhone
Bennett Lane Turn 4 Cabernet
Sokol Blosser’s Evolution #9
Coppola Director’s Cut Cinema
Emeritus Pinot Noir
Franciscan Magnificat
Domaine Salvard Unique Sav Blanc
Kermit Lynch Cote du Rhone
Chateau Aney Haut Medoc Bordeaux
Cain Cellars Cuvee NV
Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc
Muga Rioja Reserva
Pahlmeyer Merlot
Conn Valley Prologue Cabernet
Arcane Winery Pinot Gris
Nivasco Brachetto D’ Aqui
Don Diego Celsius Shiraz
Apaltagna Carmenere
Abiousness Wines Pinot Noir Rose
La Mozza I Perazzi Super Tuscan
Surh Luchtel Mosaique Red Blend
Nicholson Ranch Sonoma Pinot Noir
Dom. du Chatelard Beaujolais Blanc
Figge Cellars Pinot Noir
Oyikil Malbec
The Messenger Cabernet

Decanted Wines is located at 1410 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples FL. For more information and online ordering visit http://www.decantedwines.com

A Toast to the Beer Glass

As promised, and in lieu of our Domestic Microbrew tasting this coming Wednesday, I am going to take you on a trip to the magical world of the malty beverage and highlight proper beer-ware. Now proper beer-ware is subjective. If you are happy drinking beer out of a red party cup then by all means, go for it. But if you don’t feel like contributing to your local landfill, consider a glass that may assist in accentuating your beer experience.

Weizen Glass

The Weizen Glass (Wheat Glass) has thin walls and a tapered base, allowing for the fruity and often spiceness of a wheat beer to waft directly  into your nostrils. The extended height allows for a decent head often typical of the wheat beer.  Suggested Beers: Hefeweizen, Weizenbock, Dunkelweizen, American Wheat, Witbier

Pint Glass

The Pint Glass comes in two standard sizes, the American Tumbler which holds 16 oz and the Imperial Nonic (shown) which holds 20 oz. The American Tumbler is the most common and is thicker and heavier than the Nonic. The Nonic has a ridge near the top which helps with stacking and organization in the sud slinger world. The larger volume allows for more beer (obviously) and room for a substantial head. Suggested Beers:  Stout, Porter, English Ales

Pilsner Glass

A tall, slender 12 oz glass, the Pilsner Glass showcases the light colors, clarity and effervescence of a Pilsner style lager. Suggested Beers: Czech Pilsner, German Pilsner, American Lager

Goblet or Chalice

This stemmed beer glass is designed for Belgian Ales and German Bocks. The Goblet (shown) is typically thinner and more delicate  than the heavier, thicker Chalice. If you look into the bottom of the glass you will usually find a scoured texture which is meant to circulate the CO2, providing constant release of bubbles as well as head retention. Suggested Beers: Belgian IPA, Belgian Heavy Dark Ale, Dubbel,  Tripel, Quadrupel

Snifter

If you order a high alcohol beer at your local pub, chances are they will serve it in a smaller portioned glass. The Snifter is the most common. The wide base which tapers to a narrow rim keeps the aromas within the glass and allows for swirling without sloshing beer all over your neighbor. Stick your nose in your glass and be prepared for an intense bouquet of brew. Suggested Beers: Barley Wine, Imperial IPA, Imperial Stout, Lambic, Belgian Strong Ale

Mug

If you’ve ever joined a mug club, this is probably what you got. Your very own mug, maybe even with your name on it, proudly hanging amongst the mugs of your friends at your local watering hole. This is the oldest version of a beer holding device, dating back to the Black Plague era. The original mugs came equipped with a lid to prevent flies – evil plague carriers – from landing in your brew. Some of the ornate German Steins still have lids to this day. Suggested Beers:  American Amber, American Pale Ale, IPA, English Bitter, English Brown Ale, Scottish Ale

So there you have a sampling of the wide variety of vehicles available to the beer aficionado. There are more to mention, but these are the standards. Don’t be afraid to ask for a glass either. Oftentimes your bartender will overlook the obvious and hand you a brown bottle sans glass. Since the sense of smell makes up the majority of your tasting experience (many flavors you think you are tasting are actually aromas creeping up the back of your throat into your nasal cavity), it seems logical to serve your beer in a glass that will accentuate these aromas. Think about what you may be missing out on by drinking beer out of a tiny hole at the top of your beer bottle. If you truly want to experience your beer, pour it into a glass.

Decanted is located at 1410 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples FL. Join us for monthly beer tastings. More information at http://www.decantedwines.com

Wine & Cheese Pairing

If you are looking for the perfect combination of wine and cheese look no further than Chateau de Fontenille Entre Deux Mers and Cambozla bleu cheese.   Typically you would think of a Sauternes, Port or even a heavy Chardonnay pairing with a hearty, crumbly strong cheese, but this white Bordeaux hits the nail on the head. Cambozla is the mildest of all bleu cheeses and tends to be moist, rich and creamy. Chateau de Fontenille is a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle blend. This wine has a lot going on. It’s balanced and light, with a silky mouthfeel. The nose is aromatic with hints of peaches and soft citrus fruits, it is surprisingly smooth for the majority of it being Sauvignon Blanc. The layered Semillion and Muscadelle tone down the traditional acidic personality of Sauvignon Blanc. The Cambozla brings out a creaminess in the wine and the slight fruit in the wine tones down any over blueness the cheese may exhibit. It’s a match made in heaven!

Chateau de Fontinelle 2008 $14

Look for Cambozla at your local artisan cheese shop

You can find Chateau de Fontenille at Decanted, 1410 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples FL 34108 or online at http://www.decantedwines.com

How Important is a Glass?

Does a glass really matter? Essentially you could drink wine out of a Mason jar, plastic party cup or a coffee mug, right? But there must be a reason for the elegantly designed, thin stemmed glassware that is a wine glass.

Studies show that the shape of the glass adds to the sensation you experience while drinking wine. The thinner and clearer the glass, the easier it is to examine the color. I have seen wine glasses that are delicately etched, hand painted and solid brown (think circa 1972). To me, part of the experience of drinking wine is the color. If it is aged, how has the color changed from a younger version of the same grape? The light brick red color of Pinot Noir is a drastic difference from the dark eggplant color of a Syrah. A golden colored oaked Chardonnay looks stunningly different than certain bright green hued Saugivnon Blancs.

Another aspect of wine enjoyment is smell. Glasses are specifically shaped to help complex flavors to waft towards your nose, allow wine to swirl at the base and integrate with air, opening the bouquet.

Photo courtesy of Riedel.com

White Wine Glasses

The shape of a white wine glass is generally more slender with a smaller bowl and a slightly tapered top. The reasoning there is the smaller capacity helps to keep the wine cooler for longer. White wines tend to have lighter and more subtle aromas so a tapered top keeps those aromas from escaping.

Photo courtesy of Riedel.com

Red Wine Glasses

Certain glasses emphasize tannins, others emphasize the fruit, but the standard red wine glass has a larger bowl which tapers gently as it goes up. The larger bowl allows the aromas to spread out throughout the glass. Red wine tends to have more going on with the tannins, fruit and alcohol. These flavors need to blend together. The larger bowl allows the wine to swirl openly.

Make sure when you choose your wine glass that it’s big enough. The petite glasses may help curb the amount of wine that goes into your mouth, but if you can’t swirl the wine properly within the glass, you are not going to get the full aromas and appreciate the wine to its potential. You may also end up swirling your wine right out of your glass! You want to be able to have enough room for a decent 4-5 oz pour and that amount should only fill the glass a little less than halfway.

Stem vs Stemless

There are arguments over the stemmed glasses versus the stemless. Stemless wine glasses are chic and contemporary, breaking out of the mold as if to say, I do not need to be held up by a skinny peg leg! Short and stalky is the the new skinny, right? However, consider this if you find yourself shopping for wine glasses, unsure if you want to be new and hip or stick to traditional: If you are holding your glass, the stemless glasses force you to hold your hand at the base of the glass, where the wine sits. The heat of your  hand warms the wine to less than ideal temperatures (remember your hand is 98.6 degrees F!). Another con is greasy finger prints all over your glass, less noticeable on the stems, but if you are snacking on finger food, there is nothing less attractive than salami streaks greasing up your glass.

Feel free to drink your wine out of your lucky mug or that heirloom goblet, however there is a reason that wine glasses have been crafted over the centuries to look like they do. Your wine deserves to show its true colors.

Decanted Wines is located at 1410 Pine Ridge Rd Suite 21, Naples, FL 34108. More information and online ordering visit http://www.decantedwines.com