The folks from Upstate Distilling Co. joined us to pour Blinders Vodka and Ryen's Rye!
Blinders Vodka ($33.99)
From the producer:
"We set out to develop a vodka with character, complex taste, and a smooth mouth feel. To accomplish that, we made our vodka with a blend of wheat and rye. Vanilla notes dance on the tongue initially, while the creamy texture sets in. Finally, peppery, spicy notes finish the flavor, while leaving the tongue feeling warm."
I'm a huge fan of this vodka, partly because it's delicious, but also because it is truly crafted in Saratoga, and made with 100% New York ingredients. I love the spicy rye bite on the finish of this vodka--it's what I would choose for a Martini or a vodka tonic.
Ryen's Rye ($48.99)
From the producer:
"In the past, New York was known to be the rye whiskey capital; Ryen’s Rye is made to bring the title back home. The strong pepper and honey notes come from organic rye grain grown in Trumansburg, NY. Traditionalists will enjoy what Ryen has done with his whiskey."
This Rye is tasty and has a nice punch to it, though the mouth feel is smooth. It's a great Rye to use for those old-timey cocktails that are all the rage.
Disruption Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99)
From the producer:
Columbia Valley, Washington
VINEYARDS & COMPOSITION:
82% Cabernet Sauvignon (Katherine Leone, Purple Sage & Wahluke Slope Vineyards), 11% Petit Verdot (Wahluke Slope Vineyard), 4% Malbec (Dehoed Vineyard) & 3% Merlot (Newhouse Vineyard)
We’re sourcing from the Wahluke Slope for rich and long Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot that gives fantastic color and structure. The cooler Yakima Valley Malbec gives dark fruit and great color with oral aromatics and our Merlot offers velvety mouth-feel and length. The result? A deep garnet wine with notes of cassis and black cherry complemented by fresh sage and tobacco. A generous palate backed up by the ripe tannins of the vintage. Classic Washington.
T.A.: P.H.: ALCOHOL: CASES PRODUCED:
5.3 3.81 13.7% 5047"
Andrew Latta is one of the stars of Washington winemaking. He made a name for himself working on Charles Smith wines, and now is on his own. The Disruption line is his entry-level label, but the wines drink above their price. This Cab has a lot more body than others I've tried from Washington, and I really love its bold flavor. Pair with meat dishes, pastas, cheeses, or drink on its own.
Troublemaker Blend 10 ($17.99)
From the producer:
"Comprised of varietals that flourish in Paso Robles’ distinct growing region, Troublemaker consists of Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah. Syrah is the backbone of the wine, setting the stage for a fruit-forward style and a full body. Petite Sirah contributes to the deep ruby color. Sweet and bright red fruit flavors of Grenache blend with the rustic and lively flavors of the Mourvèdre, while Zinfandel adds its signature zing to round out the blend.
50% Syrah, 17% Zinfandel, 15% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 8% Petite Sirah
This is a lush, ripe, and bold wine that has a full body and a smooth texture. The blend of varietals lends balance and interest. I really enjoy Syrah, and here it makes an excellent base, complementing the other grapes, and giving the wine nice structure.
Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99)
From the producer:
"Known for taking the road less traveled, Michael David Winery has always stood apart from the crowd. Whether it be their outlandish brands and packaging or their quirky personalities, Michael and David are definitely on a stage of their own and this wine showcases just that. The fruit for this brute of a Cab comes from the original “super freak,” Michael Phillips’ vineyard located only a medicine balls toss away from the winery.
Bing cherry, toasted French vanilla bean and a hint of juniper berry on the nose. In the palate oak and fruit flavors are complemented with refined tannins and flavors of dark ripe plums, mission figs and toasted legumes.
Winemaker Jeff Farthing's favorite pairing for Freakshow Cab and filet mignon with bearnaise sauce and grilled asparagus."
Aging: 17 months French oak
Bottling Date: June 16, 2016
Alcohol %: 14.5
This is a big wine. When people think about California Cabs, this is what they imagine. It's fruit-forward with a soft tannin, a bit jammy, dark, and rich. If you haven't tried Michael David wines, this is a great one to start with. Although it is bold, it's also very smooth and easy to drink.
One of the most frequent conversations I have with my customers is about wine headaches and how to avoid them. In the interest of spreading information on a wider platform, I thought I'd explain in this blog what can cause headaches and what might not. In the spirit of transparency, I am not a doctor and every person's body reacts differently to alcohol, so although these are common culprits, you should always consult a physician with medical questions related to your own individual health.
Sufites are not causing your headache.
Let's break down what they are. Sulfites (sulfur dioxide or SO2) are a preservative with antioxidant and antibacterial effects that are added to many food products, including wine. Sufites are also a natural byproduct of the fermentation process, and wines without added sulfites still contain about 10-50 ppm (parts per million). Those wines have a very limited shelf-life, however, and once they are opened, they do not tend to drink as well the next day. Most winemakers add sulfites to ensure the longevity and quality of wine by protecting against oxidation and unwanted secondary fermentation. Drier wines and red wines need a smaller dose, while sweet and white wines need a larger one. The highest content used in wine is around 350 ppm (about the same as soda). Compare that to the amount in french fries (around 1900 ppm) and dried fruit (around 3500 ppm), and it's clear that if you are concerned about consuming sulfites, wine might not be your biggest worry.
Fewer than 1% of the population has a sensitivity to sulfites, and the incidence is higher among people who have severe asthma. Symptoms are more likely to be runny nose, sneezing, and difficulty breathing, rather than headaches, though. Because sulfites can trigger serious reactions in that limited population, the U.S. requires labels to state “Contains Sulfites” if the wine has more than 10 ppm. So that wine you had in France that didn't give you a headache still had sulfites—the label just didn't have to tell you about it.
Histamine, an organic compound, and tyramine, a naturally occurring amine, are both found in aged products such as cheese, cured meat, and alcohol. If your body is unable to process either of them, the increased amount in your system after ingestion can cause a change in blood pressure and headache, among other symptoms. Again, those who are sensitive to either substance are a small portion of the population.
Tannins are compounds found in the skin, stems, and seeds of grapes, and their presence in wine can be detected through the “mouthfeel.” If the feeling of the wine in your mouth is that of a drying or a puckering sensation, that wine can be called tannic. You might also know the feeling from drinking a cup of over-steeped black tea. All wines contain tannins, although red wines have more. They act as a natural antioxident to preserve the wine and allow it the potential for longer aging. Tannins are also found in chocolate, so if you have a sensitivity to that, or if you experiment on yourself with some stewed black tea and find that it gives you a headache, wine tannins might be the culprit.
Sugar and alcohol are not the best of bedfellows. When we consume sugar, our body must dilute it in order to properly process it. If you are not consuming enough water, your body must draw it from within, and one of the parts in which we feel that effect most acutely is in our brain. Alcohol is a diuretic, so while drinking you are also expelling water. This double draw on your system takes its toll if you are not properly hydrating. The best way to avoid this kind of headache is to drink water while imbibing, drink drier wines, and avoid cheaply made, mass-produced wines that often have sugar added to increase the alcohol content or to improve the flavor.
Ideally, wine should be made using little intervention, and many winemakers do stay true to the principle of letting the grapes speak for themselves and using indigenous yeasts. That is not always the case, however, and you should consider how added yeasts, powdered tannins, coloring, acidifiers, and fining products might be contributing to your headache. The only way to know is to drink different wines and see what has a negative effect on you, and what doesn't. I always encourage people who get wine headaches to try to write down which wines (brand, country of origin, varietal, alcohol content) have which effects, in order to see if there is a pattern.
Not all wines have the same alcohol content, and it's worth paying attention to whether wines with a higher ABV %(alcohol by volume) give you more trouble. California Cabs and Old Vine Zins tend to have a higher ABV (some as high as 15.5%), while most French wines tend to be around 12%.
Finally, it has to be asked: how much are you drinking? That's not meant to shame, but to be a reminder that a bottle of wine is actually 4-5 servings. If you drink a whole bottle in a night (and really, who hasn't), especially if you don't hydrate with water, you're most likely going to have a headache.
The bottom line is that every person's body processes alcohol differently, and there are a lot of possible factors that play into the infamous wine headache. If you are regularly afflicted by them, try to do some experimenting with this information and see what you can figure out about your body. Here's hoping that you find the right wine for YOU!
Santa Julia Organic Malbec ($9.99)
From the producer:
"Santa Julia Made with Organic Grapes is a range of wines coming from certified organic vineyards and it expresses our goal of emphasizing organic agriculture, peacefully coexisting with the environment.
Organica is a clear example of the combination of unique style and diversity to be found in Mendoza soils. From working in the vineyard and in each of the stages of development, Santa Julia winery has a genuine commitment to sustainable production and care of all those details that allow obtaining wines that win
COLOR: Violet-intense purple, concentrated and bright.
AROMA: A complex nose with varietal notes of ripe fruits, figs, prunes, jam and raisins.
FLAVOR: A good body, with sweet tannins and well balanced by acidity. A lingering and complex finish."
This is a medium-bodied wine that sees no oak, so the fruit really shines through. It's a great introduction to Malbec, as it is smooth and drinkable, with a good balance of fruit and acidity. It has enough body to be a good cool-weather wines, but it's fresh enough to enjoy in warmer weather, too.
Kipu Malbec ($10.99)
From the producer:
"From our best vineyards in Altamira (at 1,150 meters [almost 3,773 ft] above sea level) and Gualtallary (at 1,350 meters [almost 4,430 ft] above sea level), KIPU Malbec displays the unique characteristics of the Uco Valley, a terroir with cold climate, mineral and rocky soils. The trellis system used is espalier and the grapevines are head trained. The average yield is 8 t/ha (approximately
3.24 t/acre). Drip irrigation is used. Our vineyards have always been managed using sustainable agriculture practices.
Manual harvest takes place in the first week of April. Destemming is gentle,
without breaking the grains. A cold pre-fermentation maceration is carried out, following KIPU style, to preserve primary aromas. Then, fermentation at low temperatures and a short post-fermentation maceration are performed. The wine is aged in first, second, and third-use French oak barriques for 10 months.
Intense violet color. In the nose, aromas of black fruits, violets and spices. Mineral and graphite notes. Great balance and freshness in the mouth, with good concentration and medium structure. Soft tannins and persistent finish."
Kipu is a little more my speed when it comes to Malbecs: it has a little more body and the spicy notes are apparent. This is a full-bodied, smooth wine with a nice round mouth feel. You can pair this with red meats or hearty vegetable dishes, as well as charcuterie and bolder cheeses.
Tintonegro Uco Valley Malbec ($13.99)
From the producer:
"TINTONEGRO, meaning 'black wine' in Spanish, is meant to celebrate the essence of Malbec in Mendoza. Known for its dark, blackish color, Malbec is definitely a TintoNegro.
TINTONEGRO wines are meant to reflect the heart and soul of Malbec in Mendoza. The portfolio explores the terroirs of Mendoza where Malbec does best, gradually isolating unique vineyard sites and winemaking techniques which can showcase the heights of concentration and complexity to which Malbec can aspire.
Sourced from Mendoza’s high altitude Uco Valley, this blend is meant to showcase the cool climate style of Malbec. Intense floral aromatics, dark fruit flavors, rich texture and a bright, fresh finish –cool climate Malbec. The wine is aged for 9 months in French oak, 5% new."
This is, so far, my very favorite Malbec. The first time I tasted it, I was hooked, and I have to say that many of my customers have had the same experience. This wine has deep, dark fruit flavor and a meaty, velvety feeling on the palate. I could drink this all day long, with or without food. For me, the best pairing with this wine is rare beef, but it can complement a hearty vegetarian meal just as well.
90+ Cellars Brut Prosecco ($10.99)
From the distributor:
"Aromas of fresh peaches leap from the glass along with hints of ginger and lilac. Once sipped, a shower of foamy bubbles dances soulfully on the tip of your tongue and then bursts into a medley of crisp citrus fruit."
Prosecco has a bigger bubble than Champagne method wines; that characteristic and its base grape, glera, give it a fresh flavor that makes it enjoyable on its own or in a cocktail, such as a Mimosa. This Prosecco, although a brut, has a nice fruitiness to it, and it is an eminently drinkable sparkling wine.
Naveran Brut Nature Vintage Cava 2014 ($15.99)
From the importer:
"Naveran Brut Nature is an estate-bottled vintage Cava that sells for a song! Proprietor Michel Guilleron Parellada's goal with this Cava is to show the purity, youth and bright flavor characters of this special place. Xarello and Chardonnay contributes body, Macabeo gives aromatic intensity and Parellada lends acidity to the wine. The Naveran family legacy began in 1901. Today the Estate has 110 hectares (272 acres) of vines in the town of Torrelavit located in the Alt (high) Penedés subregion. Despite the fact that Cava is Spain's largest volume of wine exported to the U.S., Cavas are made utilizing the same methods used in Champagne and have remained Spain's best-kept secret for quality and value in wine. Caves Naveran is a premium Cava producer that uses estate-grown grapes. Naveran Brut Nature is a grower Cava that spends 18 months on its lees after fermentation in the bottle to achieve greater depth, complexity and the fine, delicate and long lasting bubbles, called mousse by the French, and are an indication of a sparking wine's quality.
This wine is the least expensive vintage bubbly on the planet (taste it blind against a $40 non-vintage “big brand” Champagne). Made by the Naveran family since 1901. This bodega has a great tradition of crafting Cavas that are superb expressions of clean, bright, citrus-inflected aromas and flavors with the all-important tiny bubbles.
Cavas are very versatile as an apéritif before the meal, to accompany dessert afterwards and (surprise!) to enjoy during the meal. This Naveran Brut Nature will pair with soft cheeses, fresh fruit, white meats (pork and chicken) and even richly flavored red meats. This Cava is great for sipping on its own, especially for receptions and other “standing up” events.
The totally dry, no dosage, Brut Nature reveals hints of oranges, tangerines and honeyed citrus, well-defined, small bubbles and an austere, dry, chalky mouthfeel."
Cava has not yet enjoyed the exposure that Champagne or Prosecco have, and as such is a real hidden gem in the sparkling wine world. I tend to prefer Cava over the others, mostly because I enjoy the fresher taste combined with a smaller bubble. This particular one is very well crafted and elegant.
René-Marie Catel Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne ($30.99)
From the distributor:
"Coming from families who have been growing grapes in Champagne since 1710, René and Marie-Noëlle DAUTEL started producing their own champagne in 1971. Sylvain Dautel, their son, is now in charge of the vineyard located in Loches-Sur-Ource, a small village in the heart of Côte des Bars. Sylvain is perpetuating the tradition of his ancestors, using environmental friendly practices to create the most delicate, yet intense Champagnes. Cuvée René-Marie Catel is a rare Brut, Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir), aged for two years in small oak barrels.
Radiant nose, revealing white-fleshed fruits (apple, pear, peach white), citrus (lemon) and floral nuances. Ample in the mouth, combining generosity and subtlety. Full, fresh and crisp."
When it comes to Champagne, I tend to like those that have a fresher flavor with less of the brioche note that many wines show. This one is light and refreshing, but with a good body and a complexity of flavors. It's a great value for money.