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  • Don't Wait Until Earth Day to Try These Organic Wines from Veramonte Vineyards

    Posted: 2021-04-15 21:21
    Veramonte Vineyards is a Chilean producer that follows organic practices in order to "express the fullest potential of the terroir".  These practices are augmented with in-house compost; row cultivation to minimize erosion; incorporation of animals like sheep to cut grass and act as a natural fertilizer; conservation of biological corridors to ensure a self-regulated ecosystem for healthy vines; pruning and canopy handling that allows for proper ventilation and disease prevention; and undergrowth control that unpacks the soil, generates structure and enhances the life and soil microfauna. 

    They follow these organic practices while growing grapes in two of Chile's 16 wine regions -- the  Casablanca and Colchagua valleys. The Casablanca Valley is "known for the marine influence of the Pacific Ocean that cools off its climate, the morning fog that settles into the valley, and the old, granite-clay soils that create a rich tapestry of terroir. All these factors play a part in making this valley one of the main producers of white wine in Chile. The higher, warmer altitudes free from frosts are ideal for red varieties such as Merlot and Syrah, while the lower and cooler areas are favorable for vibrant white wines with a signature minerality that cause Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to be the most iconic varieties of the Casablanca Valley".

    The Colchagua Valley is located in the southern half of the Rapel Valley and the "relatively low altitude of the coastal hills allows the Pacific breeze to mingle with the Andean winds, which cools the valley and prolongs the maturation period of the region. This is advantageous for the preservation of acidity in the grapes and helps to generate red wines with excellent coloring, great freshness, and very good keeping qualities. The large majority of wine produced here is red, with a particular propensity for the production of Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Although, the newer plantations close to the coast have also proven to be a region with great potential for cool-climate white wines".

    Veramonte Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($11.99)
    Sourced from the Casablanca Valley this is a great expression of an old-world style Sauvignon Blanc as opposed to more popular lemongrass-dominated styles. This is a delicious wine, subdued citrus, and considerable minerality coexisting with depth and refreshing acidity.

    Veramonte Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($11.99)
    Sourced from the Colchagua Valley this is another delicious wine that is the antithesis of overly extracted cabs. There is dark red fruit, but the chalky and earthier characters are more prevalent and expect sound structure and noticeable tannins. At this price - an incredible bargain. 

    Disclosure: We received samples from Veramonte in order to share our opinion about their products, but this isn’t a sponsored post.

  • Finding Rum in Pittsburgh from Maggie's Farm Run - Allegheny Distilling

    Posted: 2021-04-12 06:00
    During a recent day trip to Pittsburgh, I used theCompass Craft beverage Finder to target a distillery and discovered one in the historic Strip District, not far from the zoo, which was our primary destination. And I didn't expect this to be a rum distillery but that's all Allegheny Distilling produces under the Maggie's Farm Rum brand.  There are several whiskey distilleries in the City of Bridges so focusing on rum helps differentiate them from the other distillery options.

    For all of their rums, founder and distiller Tim Russell sources Louisiana turbinado raw sugarcane that is fermented using Caribbean-derived yeasts. The fermented cane juice is then pot-distilled using 100% copper Spanish-made stills. The white rums rest 3-6 in stainless steel whereas the aged rums spend 2-3 years in neutral rum casks. One rum we purchased, the Sherry Finished Rum ($50 - 43% abv) receives additional time in a sherry cask. Think Oloroso meets rum, lots of nutty nuances.

    We also purchased the Maggies Farm Coffee Liqueur ($30),  a low abv (21%) liqueur that starts with their white rum as a base, the infused with cold-brewed coffee that was locally roasted ground and brewed in-house. Finally, the liqueur receives some house-made vanilla extract and a little dark brown sugar. Just add a little cream for an excellent boost to your day.

  • Wine Regions: IGP Méditerrannée & Isle Saint Pierre

    Posted: 2021-04-08 21:54
    IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) is a French wine category that superseded Vin de Pays in 2009 and lies between Vin de France and Appellation d'Origine Protegée (AOP) on the wine quality scale.  According to, "the IGP category is intended to benefit both consumers and wine producers. It provides consumers with clarity about a wine's provenance, while producers are empowered to make wine outside the constraints of traditional AOC laws. The most obvious freedoms are the higher permitted yields and a more comprehensive list of approved grape varieties".

    The Méditérranée IGP covers wines that are produced over a large swath of territory of southeast France encompassing Provence wine region, the island of Corsica, as well as smaller areas in the Loire and Rhône valleys. Most vineyards can be found in the hills and valleys of the Alpine foothills as the higher altitude provides an excellent ripening situation with plentiful sunlight and cold nights. A large proportion of Méditérranée IGP wines are rosé made in the typical Provençal style -- lightly pressed. 

    One of our Hopwine packages was sent by Isle Saint Pierre, an almost hundred-year-old winery that was founded by Pierre Chassaing in 1927 as the southernmost vineyard in the Rhône valley. As the name suggests, the vineyard and winery are located on an island in the Rhône, just 15km away from the river's mouth. Today, Patrick Henry, Marie-Cécile, and their children (third and fourth generations of winegrowers) farm 230-hectares planting a range of grape varieties unhindered by AOP regulations. These include Merlot, Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Carménère, Muscat Petits Grains, Arinarnoa, Sauvignon Blanc, Tannat, Vermentino, Colombard, Malbec, Sangiovese, and Soreli. 

    Some of these grapes were represented in the Hopwine package,  particularly in the IGP Méditerrannée « Depuis 1927 » Rosé - 2020 which is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Arinarnoa, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. I could go with a full 750ml of this wine at any time. The light color is deceptive as the wine provides a creamy sour cherry flavor. 

    The IGP Méditerrannée Ripisylve Rosé Tannat - 2020 was just as compelling showing a candied fruit aroma leading to the same creamy but more fruit-forward wine. 

    Another complex blend arrived with the IGP Méditerrannée « Depuis 1927 » Blanc - 2020, comprised of Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Rolle, and Muscat. On the first impression, I wrote "bursting of sunshine" - which stayed consistent from nose to tail. 

    The final IGP Méditerrannée in the packages was the IGP Méditerrannée « Depuis 1927 » Rouge - 2020, another complex blend of Cabernet Sauvigon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Carménère, Arinarnoa. This last grape, and also found in the rosé, was bred in 1956 by crossing Tannat with Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was my favorite, showing earthy dark cherries, mint, a full mouthfeel, and creeping tannins. Very nice. 

    One last note, although not a Méditérranée IGP and subject of this post, but if you are intrigued by creamy lemons look for the Vin de France Soreli - 2019.

  • Sparkling Rosé Prosecco from Ca' di Prata Prosecco

    Posted: 2021-03-29 07:10

    In November 2020, the Prosecco Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) consortium allowed sparkling rosé wines to bear the DOC designation provided they are produced with at least 85% Glera grapes and with 10% – 15% Pinot Noir fermented on the skins.  This was a controversial decision as the two Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) regions (Conegliano Valdobbiadene and Colli Asolani) rejected the concept. They fear that the rosé wines will diminish Prosecco's status as a white sparkling wine region and Pinot Noir has no real historical significance to the region. In contrast, Glera is the historic white wine grape of North-East Italy having been cultivated in today's Friuli Venezia and Veneto for over 2,000 years.

    In any event, I was able to sample my first Prosecco sparkling rosé courtesy of Ca' di Prata, a new label produced in the municipality of Prata di Pordenone, hence the name translated as "home of Prata".  This Ca' di Prata Prosecco Rosé DOC ($17) had a solid mouthfeel, light creamy strawberries, with a bready and effervescent tail.  The mouthfeel was very similar to the Ca' di Prata Prosecco Brut DOC ($16) which like the rosé contains 85% Glera, but the remaining 15% replaces the Pinot Noir with Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay.  Both the wines provide great texture.  As does the Ca' di Prata Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG ($18) produced from the historic home of Prosecco. This wine shows more elegance and green apple flavors. An excellent wine.  

  • BevFluence Cocktail Book Program 2021 - Negroni: More than 30 Classic and Modern Recipes for Italy's Iconic Cocktail

    Posted: 2021-04-07 16:13

    This spring, BevFluence has partnered with Ryland Peters & Small and CICO Books to review several Cocktail books starting with Negroni, More than 30 classic and modern recipes for Italy's iconic cocktail ($12) by David T. Smith and  Keli Rivers. My bar setup was void of each of the three central ingredients (Campari, gin, and vermouth) so I decided to go local as much as possible - obviously excluding the Campari. This Italian liqueur was created by Gaspare Campari in 1860 as a bitter aperitif made from various herbs, fruits, and spices. 

    For the gin, I went with the excellent Joseph A. Magnus & Co Vigilant District Dry Gin ($35) that I first sampled at their Washington, D.C. distillery. This is a London-style dry gin that should be a decent alternative to the English gins. For vermouth, I learned that Mt. Defiance Distillery in Loudoun County Virginia produces a Sweet Vermouth ($19, 350ml).  This fortified wine starts at the Mt. Defiance Apple Brandy that is flavored with herbs and spices and blended with barrel-aged brandy, Vidal Blanc wine, local honey, and caramel syrup. 

    The perfect place to start is with The Classic, just equal parts of all three ingredients. In this scenario, the bitter orange of the Campari takes center stage with the vermouth providing a slight balance with sweet flavors.  The gin was a little lost with this palate. 

    I favored another recipe called Run Free & Naked which puts The Classic ingredients into an ice-filled and salt-rimmed pint glass. Then fill the remaining glass with sparkling hard cider. I choose the Corcoran Vineyards and Cidery PoPo Peach. This was an eye-opener and will be a summer favorite. 

    The next recipe came from the Experimental Negroni section and is the Oaxacan which replaces the gin with mezcal in the Classic recipe. I had the Mezcal El Silencio Espadín available and this substitution seemed to elevate the Campari even more while also providing a smokey trail. Good for a change of pace.

    Check back as we will up updating this post with more cocktail experiences as we leaf through the book. Cheers. 

    Another non-traditional Negroni we enjoyed was the Kingston Negroni which is the Classic above with the gin replaced with rum. We used the Pilar Key West Rum and this combination provides a little smoothness and toastiness. - a Tradex Consulting company
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