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Sunday
Dec162012

Beaujolais Nouveau Perfect for Holidays

By Eddie Nickell

It is the holiday season again and all of the celebrations are on!

December brings festivities that last almost the entire month cumulating in the biggest party of all… New Year’s Eve!

November brought one of my favorite parties, the release of Beaujolais Nouveau! At one past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns in France, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau make their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world.

Banners proclaim the good news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! "The New Beaujolais has arrived!"

One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun and by the time it is over, over 65 million bottles, nearly half of the region's total annual production, gets distributed and drunk around the world.

It has become a worldwide race to be the first to serve this new wine of the harvest. This is a tradition that FMI Restaurant Group has celebrated each year for over five years now. It is amazing to realize that just weeks before this wine was a cluster of grapes in a growers vineyard.

But by a speedy harvest, a rapid fermentation, and an immediate bottling, all is ready at the midnight hour.

By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau is to be released no earlier than the third Thursday of November.

Apart from the ordeal, what makes Beaujolais Nouveau so popular, especially in the U.S. where consumption of red wine is less than 35%?

Beaujolais Nouveau is as about as close to white wine as a red wine can get.

Due to the way it is made – the astringent tannins, normally found in red wines – isn't there, leaving an easy to drink, fruity wine. Coupled with the fact that it tastes best when chilled, makes for a festive wine that we call a ‘patio pounder,” rather than a wine to be sipped.

As a side note, it makes a great transitional wine for anyone wanting to move from white to red wines. The race from grape to glass may be silly, but half the fun is knowing that on the same night, in homes, cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and bistros around the world, the same celebration is taking place.

Beaujolais Nouveau will never be a classic wine, but it is always good and a perfect choice for holiday dinners, parties or just to hang out with friends and family.

So enjoy a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau with your turkey dinner, cocktail party or even with a bag of popcorn while watching a movie! Cheers!

Eddie Nickell is the owner and operator of Funky Monkey Wine Company in Orlando, Florida.

Friday
Dec142012

Why Sustainability and Organic Practices Matter

By Robert Esplen

When ordering that glass of wine at the bar do you ever ask yourself, “How much does that glass of wine really cost?” Not in reference to dollars and cents, but in terms of the impact each glass has on our planet? Energy, fertilizers, pesticides, and transportation are just a few contributing factors.

Recently, wineries recognized their impact on the environment and began working diligently to reduce their carbon footprint.

One area of focus is hand harvesting grapes instead of using machines. Hand harvesting not only reduces the amount of Co2 emissions released from machines, but enables the picking of only ripe grapes ready for pressing, leaving the rest to mature. Normally a producer will go through and pick five to seven times before harvesting all of the grapes.

Pesticides and fertilizers are a popular tool in a wine maker’s arsenal to help produce the maximum yield from yearly crops. More juice equals more bottles produced, which in turn leads to higher sales. However, due in large part to the vast amount of information available on the Internet, the average consumer is becoming more informed and concerned about chemicals they are unknowingly consuming. In response, many wineries are moving away from chemicals; opting instead for natural methods of pest management and fertilizers.

With the recent rise in gas prices, producers are recognizing the effects that the packaging process has on the environment. Recently, producer Dave Mathew of Dreaming Tree winery has substituted their bottles for another option that weighs 55% less. High-end bag-in-box varieties, such as Raymond, allow for a substantial reduction in shipping costs; an unfilled 10-liter bag weighs about 68 grams, 99 percent less than a nine-liter case of empty glass bottles.

It was only recently on my quest to prepare the first sustainable/biodynamic-farmed wine list in Orlando that paired well with deep blu seafood grille’s commitment to eco-friendly practices, that I discovered almost every producer is conscious of the environment and utilizes some or all of the practices mentioned above.

One thing I strongly believe is wine is about the experience, or what I like to call “doing my homework” and tasting! As with any other type of wine, when choosing sustainable and organic varieties it is important to taste the wine before you purchase it as everyone’s palates are different and enjoy different styles and flavor profiles of wine.

When asking a server or bartender for wines that use sustainable or biodynamic farming methods, ask for a sample of the wine to ensure it is of good quality. I will always go out of my way to sample a couple wines with a guest to ensure they get the perfect wine that fits either their meal or the flavor profile that they are looking for.

Look for some of these environmentally-conscious producers:

Grgich Hills Estate is USDA certified organic.

Heitz Cellars is also a 100% organic production.

Belle Glos Wine is sustainably farmed, but cannot qualify as certified sustainable due to their pressure treated fence posts.

Marenco Moscato D’Asti uses all natural fertilizers and utilizes solar power to heat all water used in production. Not to mention some of the best Moscato I have ever had!

All wines from South Africa have to pass a sustainability board before being sold. De Toren and Mulderbosh are two of my favorite producers from South Africa. Look for Fusion V from De Toren and Faithful Hound from Mulderbosh.

Robert is General Manager of deep blu Seafood Grille, the award-winning restaurant at the new Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. deep blu is committed to providing guests with only sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.

Thursday
Sep062012

My Napa Experience

by Steve Adams

Recommendations
Domaine Chandon
2008 Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé
92 Points Wine Spectator, Dec. 15, 2008
“Offers lively raspberry and graham cracker aromas, with crisp, festive strawberry, Gala apple and spice flavors that rally toward a zesty finish.”
Caymus
2009 Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
“Dark scarlet color, purple edges. Subtle juicy character with an intense presence, bitter chocolate, charred peppered meat, raw dry aged beef, brown spice, vanilla yogurt, sarsaparilla, cream soda with judicious grip and texture.”
– Chuck Wagner, winemaker
Caymus
2009 Belle Glos, Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir
“Deep scarlet color, aromas of cinnamon, cranberry and a hint of ginger... sweet baking spices, and tart berries, even a hint of roasted meat.”
–Joseph J. Wagner, Winemaker.
Amuse Bouche Winery
2008 Amuse Bouche Napa Valley Merlot
95 Points; “One sip is all it takes to understand that this is a vital, impressive and profound wine. A blend of 96% merlot and 4% cabernet franc, it displays the voluptuous richness of a Heidi Barrett wine, but also shows a firmness of character and structural dryness that elevates it. Exceptionally flavorful in blackberries and cherries, it has tantalizing hints of herbs, olive tapenade and intensely fine oak. Drink now – 2016.”
– Wine Enthusiast, March 2011
Au Sommet
2009 Au Sommet Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon
“This blend is 98% cabernet sauvignon and 2% petit verdot. Dark, rich, concentrated flavors. Bold purity of fruit in the nose, very soft and silky palate structure. This wine will ship in the fall of 2012.”
St. Clement
2007 St. Clement Oroppas Napa Valley
“The 2007 Oroppas (92% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot, and the rest petit verdot and cabernet franc) exhibits a more tannic structure as well as notes of cedarwood, roasted herbs, bay leaf, red and black currants, licorice and toasty oak. It requires 2-3 years of bottle age, and should drink well over the following 20 years.”
–90+ Points,
Wine Advocate
Markham Vineyards
2010 Cellar 1879 Blend
“Sleek and supple, offering appealing aromas of red currant and toasty vanilla, with layered flavors of black cherry, espresso and spice that lead to ripe, supple tannins, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and petit sirah. Drink now through 2017.”
– 91 Points,
Wine Spectator
Newton
2008 The Puzzle
“This Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux blend is very rich and elaborate, a major league hitter for its spectacular fruit and tannins. The flavors are deep and concentrated, suggesting perfectly ripened blackberries, cassis, and milk chocolate, with a minerality that must come from the soil. It’s also very soft, in the modern style.”
– 91 Points,
Wine Enthusiast
Raymond
2008 Generations Cabernet Sauvignon
“So rich and ripe in fruit, you almost don’t notice that it’s also a complicated and layered wine in structure. Blackberry marmalade, cassis, and cocoa flavors are balanced... An extraordinarily delicious wine.”
– 94 Points,
Wine Enthusiast

Being a seasoned hospitality veteran and sommelier, I was embarrassed to say I had never been to Napa Valley! You can imagine my joy when Christian Dammert, the Corporate Beverage Director of Shula’s, called and invited me to join him and three other Head Coaches for a trip to Napa Valley. Of course, I had always heard about others going during the fall for crush when the grapes are being harvested and all of the activity during that time, so I was a little disappointed that we were going in the spring (May to be exact). Boy I could never have been more wrong! Yes, there are grapes on the vine in the fall, but the wine makers are busy doing what they do for a living, so getting to spend time with them is almost impossible, I am told. I would definitely recommend going in the spring, and the following recap will explain why.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun062012

Summer Whites

By David Gwynn

With the mercury rising, our desire to both keep cool and keep our cool, grows.  Stronger, the deeper into the dog days of summer we venture. Our instincts kick in and we manage by indulging in lighter-style foods and beverages that help us feel refreshed – chilled soups, crisp salads and cool white wines.

White wines are more favorable than reds in the warmer months for a variety of reasons.  First, they are always served chilled. That in itself is invigorating to a cotton-mouth. Next, in the wine making process, whites typically have little or no contact with the grape skins. This is significant because the skins contain compounds that are referred to as tannins. Tannins create the astringent or mouth-drying sensation that many red wines exhibit. This characteristic can make a parched mouth feel drier than dry; if that’s even possible. In addition, whites tend to have a more pronounced acidic quality than reds. White wine descriptors like “racy”, “vibrant” and “bright” all refer to a defined acidic component that gives these wines a sense of structure and as a result, produces a light, fresh-mouth feel. Finally, white wines are usually lower in alcohol, which at this time of year can wreak havoc when the object is to stay hydrated.

The following white wines are great representations of their respective varietal. They are delicious wines that can be enjoyed while lounging at the coast or settling back at the dinner table relishing in summer’s bounty.

2010 Bodegas Viña Godeval Godello Valdeorras, Spain
Almost an extinct varietal, Godello has citrus and floral notes and pronounced minerality with vibrant lemon and lime flavors.

2010 Abbazia Di Novacella Kerner Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy  
A cross between a German red and white grape, Kerner is highly aromatic with succulent peach and lemon peel and a long, juicy finish.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr112012

Craft Beer

Ryan Johnson, Senior Trade Brewer

To celebrate FR&L Magazine’s 2012 Beverage Edition, Editor Susie McKinley interviewed Senior Trade Brewer Ryan Johnson, with Tenth and Blake Beer Company in order to discus new directions and trends in craft-style beer.

Initially trained as a brewer/restaurant manager/sous chef, Ryan Johnson quickly switched the focus of his skills in distinguishing and managing flavor to the beer industry, where he has worked ever since. Ryan’s current position allows him to pursue all aspects of flavor, food, and pairings internally within Tenth and Blake Beer Company and throughout the industry. Ryan studied biopsychology and fermentation sciences in college and honed his beer knowledge with the Siebel Institute of Technology and the Institute for Brewing Technology & Distilling. He also earned the Certified Cicerone recognition, served as a Microbrewery Consultant and developed a complete Advanced Beer Training program for MillerCoors.

Ryan, your job sounds like a lot of fun!  Please tell our readers about your Cicerone designation:
The Cicerone designation is an independent examination and now an industry standard for knowing beer service at a professional level.  It is a certification program to designate individuals who have a deep understanding of beer styles, pairing with food and brewing processes.

What is “Craft Beer”?
Now that is difficult to answer.  Brewing is a craft.  The Brewers’ Association notes it as a beer of which 6,000,000 barrels or less has been produced annually.  Interestingly enough, due to the popularity of Craft Beer, many labels are running into becoming more of a “big brewery” beer due to a higher barrel production. Blue Moon and Sam Adams are examples that come to mind.

Click to read more ...