Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In the News: Errázuriz

Will Lyons of The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted Chile's Errázuriz wines in an article entitled "Cultivating Pinot Noir." The feature began with a quick discussion of pinot noir, including the requisite reference to the film Sideways (who here's ready for a new movie about wine?). Lyons then quickly shifted into a profile of Viña Errázuriz's winemaker Francisco Baettig and the additional varietals cultivated by the estate in the Valle de Aconcagua. 

Viña Errázuriz was founded in 1870 by Don Maximiano Errázuriz with the finest clones from France and a great deal of vision and perseverance. One hundred thirty years later, his descendant Eduardo Chadwick has steered the winery into the twenty-first century while upholding long-standing estate traditions. "From the best land, the best wine," a philosophy scribed by Don Maximiano, rings true with Errázuriz's vineyard and winemaking practices today.

Hola, Don Maximiano!
Hola, Francisco!
 Will Lyons was especially impressed with Errázuriz's 2009 Single Vineyard Carménere and profiled it in the "Drinking Now" section of his column. In his words, the wine "really shone, with a deep, luscious character, bags of fruit and the sort of complexity one wants from a wine at this price." Deep ruby with a lusciousness in the nose, Errázuriz's Carménere stands up well to the stews and red meats that we all gravitate toward as the temperatures drop in the Northeast. As Lyons remarks, it is "a suberb wine for those cold nights ahead."
Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
Single Vineyard Carménere
Wild Ferment Chardonnay

Stephen Tanzer has also favorably reviewed the 2009 Single Vineyard Carménere. In his tasting notes he remarked, "packs a solid punch but this wine is quite elegant and seamless." He bestowed a 90 point score upon the wine as well as 90 point scores for the 2010 Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and 2009 Wild Ferment Chardonnay.
Incorporating the twenty-first century into the 130 year history of Errázuriz

Please visit The Wall Street Journal online to read Will Lyon's full article and contact your Wine Wizards rep or favorite wine shop for more information about these delicious, appealingly priced wines.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Land to Hand, Vineyard to Bottle: The Wines of Charles Smith

We are absolutely thrilled to have recently added the wines of Washington-based Charles Smith to our portfolio. Food & Wine's 2009 Winemaker of the Year, Charles epitomizes the opposite of what we have come to expect in the industry. With a deceivingly cavalier attitude and colorful past--one of his former pursuits includes managing rock bands in Scandinavia--he has become a force on the international market. The cult following that has developed around Charles makes perfect sense when you consider his portfolio of wines. 90+ scores are consistently bestowed upon them by the likes of The Wine Spectator, Wine EnthusiastWine & Spirits, Food & Wine, Stephen Tanzer, and Robert Parker. Oh, and did I mention he's self-taught?

I, for one, love his logo.
In the words of Gastrotommy, September 2011:

"What I also discovered along the way was that Charles was not simply a guy with crazy hair that likes to get down like he’s going to prison tomorrow (really). He is really smart. He has a tremendous amount of respect for the great old world wines from Europe. He understands and executes marketing strategy as well as anyone in the world. Furthermore, he never compromises his values to gain favor. Ever.... So, you are looking for something that totally rocks that you can find anywhere? Check out Charles Smith’s wines."

From Charles Smith Wines:

Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2010 - A Wine Spectator Best Value at 90 Points
100% Riesling, Evergreen, Columbia Valley
Described as "vivid, distinctive, and immensely appealing for its juicy Winesap apple, apricot, and citrus flavors, finishing with zing to balance the sweetness" in Wine Spectator's Advance 11/30/11 Issue.

Boom Boom Syrah 2010 - Just Released!

The Velvet Devil Merlot 2009
90.6% Merlot, 9.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
Described by Charles Smith as "pure velvet: milk chocolate, wild blackberry, baking spice, rose oil... beautifully perfumed Washington in a glass."

Eve Chardonnay 2009
100% Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
Described by Charles Smith as having "aromas of rose petals, lavendar, and wet stone.... Stonefruit, honeyed ripe apple, sophisticated and pure with nice acidity and a hint of mineral on the soft finish."

Chateaux Smith Cabernet Sauvigon 2008
82% Cabernet Sauvigon, 12% Petite Verdot, 6% Syrah, Columbia Valley
Desribed by Charles Smith  as "super smooth [with] cedar, Rainier cherry, dark rose. A Washington Cabernet with a real sense of place."

Wine Wizards also represents the K VINTNERS portfolio and SECCO, a collaboration with Charles' wife and her sister of sparkling white and rose blends from the Prosecco region of Veneto, Italy. More on those in a future post.

Charles Smith's wines are easily identified and are making their way through the Rhode Island market. We hope that you will get behind the brand, join the movement, embrace the black and white... in our opinion, the wines are worth it.

Images and background check courtesy Charles Smith Wines.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Out in the Field: Farnum Hill Ciders


Farnum Hill Ciders at Poverty Lane Orchards

Our team hit the road to New Hampshire one late-summer Friday. Our destination was Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, home to Farnum Hill Ciders. The setting there is classic New England: large white farmhouse, a series of clapboard barns, and fruit laden trees in mowed orchards. The picturesque setting was the perfect backdrop for meeting the team behind Farnum Hill, tasting their critically acclaimed products, and absorbing the history and techniques of cider making.

In the orchard

Farnum Hill Cider fulfills the true meaning of the word "cider:" an alcoholic beverage fermented from apples, exactly as "wine" is fermented from grapes.  So don't expect these ciders to taste like apples, just as you don't pour a glass of wine with the expectation that it will taste like grapes. With 6.5-7.5% alcohol, Farnum Hill Ciders tend toward the dry, sharp, fruity, and bountifully aromatic. These are not the sweet, artificially-flavored, mass-produced ciders of supermarket infamy. They represent a return to the craft and horticulture of distinctive American orchard-based cidermaking.

Proprietor Steve Wood has been at Poverty Lane Orchards since 1968. He has passionately studied the history and techniques of cider making while experimenting with his orchards and processing line. His dream is to see cider consumed with the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm dedicated to wine and craft beers. As he and other members of the Farnum Hill team mentioned throughout our visit, they strive to overcome the preconceived notions of cider as a sweet and appely autumn beverage and work hard to present Farnum Hill cider as a seasonless beverage with complexity, acidity, and palette appeal.

An apple not for eating, but for pressing, fermenting, and drinking

The influences of terroir are embraced by the Farnum team. They strive to make ciders that take on the character of the 80 acres of Poverty Lane orchards. In the words of Farnum Hill: A four-month growing season, heavy glacial soils, extreme temperature swings in Fall between day and night all, along with October frosts, contribute to intensification of flavors here. In general we find most concentrated, nuanced flavors come from the later-picked varieties, harvested late October. We believe that frost injury to the spur leaves of the fruit causes a sudden rush of photosynthates into the apple flesh, just before harvest. Meanwhile, a few earlier-ripening varieties seem to enjoy our compressed growing season, and produce juice with consistently admirable character.

Apple varietals with the occassional Odd Ball

Apple varietals such as Kingston Blacks, Foxwhelp, Medaille d'Or, and other heirlooms are carefully cultivated. In fact, during our tour through the orchards, Steve whipped out his clippers and began pruning the tree that we were discussing.

Our tasting that afternoon took us through many of these varietal ciders. While feasting on hearty cheese sandwiches in the barn, we tasted from glass beakers to breakdown the ciders' various elements before taking the opportunity to blend the different beakers into our glasses. We also tasted from barrel and bottle. As Farnum Hill explains, Very few cider apples will make a satisfying finished cider on their own. Diversified orchards and expert blending are critical to doing cider right.

Howard Mahady, Farnum Hill's Steve Wood, Nick Zeiser,
Bob Goulet & Don Murphy

We enjoyed a very full afternoon at Farnum Hill. Please visit their website for more information or talk to one of us. We hope that you will pick up a bottle or two of Farnum Hill Cider on your next trip to your favored wine/beer/spirits shop!