Super Bowl Supper

Origin: Snooth – Articles


Vegetarian for Winter

Sometimes you want to take a break from meat, or you have friends coming over who are, shall we say, not carnivorous. Or you just want something a bit lighter for lunch or dinner. No matter the reasons, you don’t have to suffer for it. Meat eaters tend to be a bit of a foolish bunch when it comes to vegetarian dishes. Of course give them a nice plate of pasta and tomato sauce and they’ll love it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of semantics, sometimes it’s not.

In light of these sage words today I’m splitting up my approach to vegetarian dishes for winter by including both dishes that are vegetarian, and those that are not. By that I mean dishes that say they are vegetarian, thus implying that it is a version of a dish that you expect to contain meat, and dishes that just don’t include meat. These are all great for a hearty winter meal, perfect for sitting out the next polar vortex, curling up with someone you love, and sharing a great bottle of wine!

Original: Snooth – Articles

What Did Rudy Ruin?

filedrawer_rudy.jpgNot since the Mondavi brothers faced each other in a San Francisco courtroom has there been so much drama in the world of fine wine. Like many of my fellow pundits, I followed the trial of Rudy Kurniawan and the events that led up to it closely. Being slightly more inquisitive than your average wine geek, but unable to put my life on hold by flying to New York to attend the trial, I also read many of the daily courtroom transcripts.

The trial was possessed of a Hollywood feel even before Aubert de Villaine, Christophe Roumier and Laurent Ponsot featured on the witness list. In 2004, a young, brash wine collector bursts onto the scene and within a few years begins to move the market for the world’s most collectible wines. With a penchant for the trappings of luxury and a tendency to share abundantly from his massive auction purchases of DRC, Petrus and other trophy wines, Kurniawan quickly made his way into the topmost echelons of the wine-buying world. But after a time, the cellar seemed too deep to be true, and an increasing number of suspect bottles became traceable to Kurniawan. Increasingly desperate for funds to pay his debts and support his lifestyle, but with fewer outlets willing to accept his wares, Kurniawan convinced others to consign his wines for him.

Read the rest of my review on JancisRobinson.Com.

This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you’re not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It’s only £6.99 a month or £69 per year ($11/mo or $109 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.

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Credit: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Friuli Meets California: The Wines of Arbe Garbe

You can take the boy out of Friuli, but you can’t take the Friuli out of the boy. One quick flash of his boyish smile and it’s easy to understand the bright conviviality that you taste in Enrico Bertoz and his wife Letizia’s wines. Like the man, they are positively brimming with big love — a zesty, sunny cheer that is, like his smile, quite infectious.

Bertoz, 37, spends his days making wine for Flora Springs Winery in Napa (and as a brief aside, seems to have made a wonderful improvement to the wines in his recent years there). Look carefully in the corners of the modest Flora Springs winery in St. Helena, though, and you’ll see a crusty old barrel or two with the words “Arbe Garbe” scrawled on them. While all the wine that surrounds them is also the product of Bertoz’s passion, these other barrels, and the roughly 600 cases of wine they yield each year represent a connection to Bertoz’s personal terroir, and a bridge between the two worlds that he loves.

“I grew up in a small town called Pavia in Friuli,” explains Bertoz as we sit on a terrace overlooking the vineyards of St. Helena basking in the mid-day sun. “It’s across the river from Butrio. I was born there and raised there. In Italy, I went to technical school for science and Enology.”

“My great aunt — my grandmother’s sister — after World War II, she married an American, and they went to live in New York City. When I was eight years old, they took me to visit her. I stepped out on to Jamaica Avenue in Queens, and said to myself ‘No matter what happens, one day I’m going to live in this country””

“I learned to run away from the Puerto Ricans at a tender age” laughs Bertoz. “I went back again when I was sixteen. Instead of going to the beach like all my friends, I wanted to go to America.”

Starting as a teenager, Bertoz began to save his money for the move he knew would come eventually. After years of pestering, his father took him for a few trips that arbegarbe-2.jpgincluded a grand tour of South, including Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee.

“I don’t know why it always appealed to me. It was just somewhere I thought I should live,” muses Bertoz. “When I’d go back to Italy for the school year, I’d always have to defend my love for it. I always liked it here.”

In his teens, Bertoz met Letizia, the woman that would eventually become his wife.

“We both used to go work at [Friulian producer, Silvio] Jermann’s for pruning and harvesting, and that was a big chunk of change right before school started. I was saving, always saving.”

“Finally, when I was twenty-three, I decided I had to make the move,” recalls Bertoz. “At the time I was working for the Nonino family, the grappa makers, and they had ties around the world. I went to the owner one day and told him ‘You have to help me get to the USA, actually to California.’ I was also sending rsums and letters but no one was responding.”

“Finally, they got me in contact with [California restaurateur] Piero Salvaggio,” continues Bertoz. “It’s not like I wanted to work in a restaurant, but I wanted to work, and I wanted to get to the US. He needed help in the mornings in the wine cellar stocking and restocking. I said ‘It’s perfect,’ and took the job.”

Bertoz got the kind of instant education that anyone does working a California restaurant wine cellar. “I got exposed to all these amazing wines,” recalls Bertoz. “Kistler, Marcassin, Alban. I was tasting these amazing wines and it finally connected for me and I thought, ‘why the heck am I not doing here what I was doing in Friuli?’

“Then one day I stumbled across these bottles with really weird labels that were amazing. I asked my boss what was the deal with these wines, and he told me they were made by this other guy who used to be in the restaurant business. I asked if he could put me in touch, but he just shook his head and said, ‘I don’t think he’s going to be interested.’

At this point Bertoz flashes one of his smiles, and it’s hard not to laugh as he describes the campaign of cheerful terrorism he waged on Sine Qua Non owner and winemaker Manfred Krankel. “Basically, I bugged the crap out of this guy until he gave me an audience,” admits Bertoz. “And so I got to work a little with him.”

“This opened up the whole wide world,” says Bertoz. “The wines were what they are. Huge but not clumsy. Monsters. But his dedication is really what got me. This is a guy who’s a millionaire, and sold this bakery and he’s there during harvest before everyone else unloading the forklift — one time with fifteen stitches still in his head — and standing on the sorting system all day hosing stuff off. He would take me around his vineyards. We would meet at 4 AM, sample grapes until 6 AM, and then work until 10 PM or Midnight. It was seeing his dedication, his quirky ways, his warehouse operation, that really taught me a lot.”

“I remember this vineyard he showed me once, called White Hawk, and there was basically a dune of sand with grape vines growing in it,” remembers Bertoz. “This vineyard represented everything about America for me, this pioneering spirit that is embedded in American culture. I never would have thought of planting a vineyard there. And from there we would go up to the vineyards at Alta Mesa that are basically touching the heavens. It was all an epiphany for me.”

Bertoz worked a single harvest with Krankel, got his green card, and then, in his words “was standing on the shoulders of giants.”

“I moved up north, and thanks in part to my time with Manfred, I could basically work everywhere I wanted. I settled in Napa, and started working with Marco DiGiulio at Girard for three years.”

During his second harvest with DiGiulio, Bertoz got access to a half ton each of Pinot Blanc, Viognier, and Malvasia.

“It wasn’t even enough to fill the press, but I started messing around with it,” recalls Bertoz, who couldn’t resist a chance to play with some of the grapes he was used to from back home.

“I had to make my own wine, because there was a chance. I wanted to do this. It is something I was brought up doing. I had this idea in my head: how can I express who I am and where I come from and where I live now. And when that fruit came in, it just clicked. Back then I was doing a lot of vineyard sourcing for Marco I used to drive from Mendocino on down to San Francisco, and one day I came across Saralee’s Vineyard.”

It was the reliable access to fruit that turned Arbe Garbe from an experiment into something real.

Around about the same time, Bertoz got a call from Flora Springs Winery, who were looking for an assistant winemaker.

“I did a little research and found out that they were the second largest growers in Napa — they sell to almost everyone — and I said yes because I knew that would give me control of the fruit.”

“I’m very particular about my fruit,” Bertoz says, almost sheepishly. “I have my own ideas as far as viticulture goes. Canopy management and fruit load are very important, and the right pruning is very site specific,” he explains when I raise my eyebrows for explanation. “It takes me about six years to get a vineyard where I want it to be. School gives you the frame and the tools, but you need to do everything by what the site needs specifically.”

When I ask what his wife has her own ideas about given their time spent working for Jermann, Bertoz grins. “She does the blends. She is the one who always has her finger on the blends. She does a lot of work for me — the stuff I can’t do because of harvests here. She pulls samples and then chastises me when things aren’t right — too much of this or too little of that. The imprimatur is always hers.”

“She went to language school,” he adds, almost by way of apology.

The wines are fermented with native yeasts, and sometimes include extended skin contact, or batonnage if appropriate.

Arbe Garbe is the Friulian term for the jumble of flowering weeds most often used as cover crops in the vineyards. “When you go to Friuli and you see the vineyards,” explains Bertoz, “there is always this carpet of green. It’s an ancient practice. What the plants are depends on the vineyard and the season, but you’ll find wild peas and clover and mustard, which are all essentially homeopathic remedies from a vigor standpoint, and cures for nutrient deficiency.”

When I ask if this means that Arbe Garbe is biodynamic or at least sustainable, Bertoz laughs again. “Sustainable is a word that is very fashionable. The beauty and curse of what we do is that it takes a year to see the results of what you do. And then of course, the alcohol helps you forget and endure.”

Occasionally Bertoz will bust out with a saying like this that makes him sound like an old Italian grandfather in the body of a thirty-something. His joviality makes it easy to overlook the deep thoughtfulness that he brings to his work.

I ask him about his bottles and labels, which are quite striking.

“Every year I change the the bottle shape and the labels,” he explains, “not because I think I’m some quirky guy, but with the 2010 so structured I felt like I needed a bottle with shoulders and a label that was somewhat austere. That was the nature of the vintage and the wine. With 2011 with a floral tone, and being a lighter year heading towards the flowers, it was a vintage of nuance rather than substance, so I picked the long ethereal bottle and the flower motif.”

I ask him who is label designer is and he just shrugs. “I do it all,” he says. “I’m into botanics and herbs. I have a bunch of old botany books from the 17th, 16th, and 15th centuries at home. That was where I got inspiration for the label prints.”

It takes me a moment to realize that he’s saying that he actually created woodblocks to print the labels himself.

“It gets pretty boring around here in January and February,” he laughs. “When you have a four year old and a newborn and it rains all day between diaper changes and ‘let’s play legos!’ when the house is quiet I just start carving away.”

The labels and bottles, like the wines, are an intensely personal expression of Bertoz and his wife, and are more interesting for it. With a 600 case production, the wines aren’t plentiful, but their quality and distinctiveness have made them somewhat of an under-the-radar favorite of the wine geek set, who hold the wines of Friuli in high regard.

Not every wine, when tasted, can be said to easily reflect the hand that made it. We make much, after all, of the need for the wine to have a certain transparency to place, most of all. But terroir exists at least as much in the people who produce a wine as the soils in which it grows, and for that reason something of the maker can shine through a wine. The wines of Arbe Garbe, appropriately enough, leave you with a tell-tale grin.


2011 Arbe Garb Malvasia Bianca, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow-gold in the glass this wine smells of wintersweet blossoms, wet chalkboard, and a hint of wax. In the mouth, tart lemon and melon flavors have a light tannic structure and a smooth, silky texture. Great, stony acidity makes the wine quite easy to drink. Notes of grapefruit linger in the finish. 13.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2011 Arbe Garbe White Blend, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow gold in color, this wine smells of honey, melon, and exotic blossoms. In the mouth the wine is beautifully round, with flavors of melon, honey, and lychee swirling amidst a wet concrete minerality that is quite tasty. A lightly bitter citrus pith quality lingers on the finish and puckers the edges of the mouth. A blend of 50% Pinot Grigio, 45% Malvasia Bianca, and 5% Riesling. Alcohol unknown. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2010 Arbe Garbe White Blend, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and peaches. In the mouth the wine has a broad, round silkiness and a gorgeous waxy complexion of yellow melon, apple, honey, and white flowers. Fantastic acidity and wonderful luscious floral quality, yet at the same time deep and stony, like the bottom of a well. A blend of 45% Pinot Grigio, 45% Malvasia, and 10% Ribolla Gialla. Alcohol unknown. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $28. click to buy.


The 2012 wines are also on the market. I had a chance to taste them out of barrel last year, and they are exceptional. The Malvasia is bright and fresh, but also with some of the depth that comes with extended skin contact, and the white blend includes Gewürztraminer, and has a nice richness to it.

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Origin: Vinography: A Wine Blog

5 Savory Beef Soups

It has been quite a week, with record low temperatures recorded virtually across the country. When the weather gets this cold you just want to stay inside and warm your soul with some rich, savory soups! Not only will you feel better but you’ll also fill the house with the warm, seductive aromas of that simmering pot.

Now lots of folks will be happy to let you know that soup is tough to pair with wine. Falling back on Madeira and Sherry as the only appropriate partners, but the truth is that while those are indeed awesome pairings for many a soup, they are far from the whole story. Let’s take a look at some satisfying beefy winter soups to see how we can build a flavor bridge with some of your favorite wines!

Source: Snooth – Articles

Vinography Unboxed: First Week of 2014

box_o_wine.jpgHello from the bottom of the samples pile. This is the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles of sample wine that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week I was stunned by the latest releases of Nickel & Nickel’s single vineyard Cabernets. These are always well made wines, but usually with far too much oak influence for my taste. The 2010 vintage, however combines the leaner fruit of a cooler year with less new oak than usual for a dynamite showing. With great acidity and balance these wines will last for 20 or 30 years easily.

I’ve been tasting through some of the wines from Chateau Maris in France’s Languedoc, which may hold the title as the greenest winery in the world (the building itself is made of hemp!). Their red blend has a nice cheeriness to it along with a more serious barnyard aspect that may not appeal to everyone, but certainly did to me.

The latest release of Shafer’s Hillside Select was also in the pile this week, and it continues the tradition of high quality winemaking, though this vintage clearly needs some time in the bottle before reaching its full potential.

Other reliable Cabernets from Lancaster in Sonoma’s Alexander Valley, and Smith Madrone also showed well, as did a couple current releases from Flora Springs. The 2011 Cabernet and Merlot from this producer showed remarkable restraint and had fairly low alcohols in keeping with the cold vintage, which made them quite tasty to my palate.

And finally, just so it wasn’t an entirely red week, I’ve got a couple of inexpensive Rieslings that satisfy, in particular the bottling from Dr. Bürklin-Wolf.

All of these and more below. Enjoy!

2011 Kühling-Gillot “Qvinterra Trocken” Riesling, Rheinhessen, Germany
Light greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon oil, a hint of petrol, and wet chalkboard. In the mouth pink grapefruit and tangelo zest have a bright, if a bit austere, zing to them. Excellent acidity. Citrus zest lingers in the finish.12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $15. click to buy.

2011 Dr. Bürklin-Wolf “Bürklin Estate” Riesling, Pfalz, Germany
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of star fruit and wet stones. In the mouth, start fruit, green apple and wet chalkboard flavors have a nice crispness to them as lime zest and pink grapefruit notes linger in the finish. Excellent acidity and nice balance. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $18. click to buy.

2009 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain, Napa, California
Medium to dark ruby in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco, and wet earth. In the mouth, powdery tannins wrap around wet earth, black cherry, and a nice green herbal note. Beautiful bright acidity keeps this wine lean, as does the deep wet earth minerality hayne_cabernet.jpgthat underlies the whole package. 13.9% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45. click to buy.

2010 Nickel & Nickel “Martin Stelling Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cassis and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, juicy black cherry and cassis flavors have a deep earthiness to them. Muscular, mouth coating tannins cover every nook and cranny in the mouth as earthy and deep black cherry notes linger through the finish. Excellent acidity. 14.7% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $155. click to buy.

2010 Nickel & Nickel “Hayne Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherries, violets, and tobacco. In the mouth, beautifully silky and bright cherry and cassis flavors have a fantastic stony quality to them and little or no trace of oak. Outstanding, and without a doubt the best vintage of this wine I’ve ever had.14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2010 Nickel & Nickel “John C. Sullenger Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and tobacco. In the mouth, rich black cherry, graphite, and wet earth flavors mix with a hint of wet wood and espresso. Gorgeous, dark, and showing very little oak influence. Bravo. 14.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2010 Signorello Estate “Padrone” Proprietary Red Wine, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells like cherry, graphite, sandalwood and wet earth. In the mouth, beautiful graphite and cherry flavors mix with a deeper earthy quality. Powdery tannins hang gauzily about the mouth while beautifully bright cherry and cedar flavors mix with cocoa flavors and espresso in the finish. Beautifully integrated oak is barely present in the wine. Gorgeous. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $150. click to buy.

2010 Lancaster Estate “Nicole’s” Proprietary Red Wine, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and wet stones with hints of cocoa powder. In the mouth wonderfully bright cherry and black cherry flavors mix with a fantastic forest floor, graphite, and wet stone quality. Powdery, mouth coating tannins find every nook and cranny in the mouth, and linger with a muscular presence. Excellent. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $65. click to buy.

2009 Shafer Vineyards “Hillside Select” Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District, Napa, California
Inky, opaque garnet in color, this wine smells of rich black cherry and cassis with a hint of dark earth underneath. In the mouth, rich cassis and black cherry fruit has an excellent brightness to it, thanks to good acidity. Mouth coating tannins linger, with a hint of dryness and a suggestion that this wine be left alone for a few years to mellow itself. Shows little hint of its 15.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $240. click to buy.

2011 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich black cherry and tobacco with a hint of chocolate. In the mouth, beautifully bright cherry and tobacco flavors mix with espresso and wet earth in a gorgeously balanced package. Supple, velvety tannins linger through the finish with just the faintest hint of green bell pepper and crushed herbs. Lovely. 14.2% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2011 Flora Springs Merlot, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of brown sugar, plums, and dark chocolate. In the mouth, juicy black plum, cola, and chocolate flavors have a nice fuzzy blanket of tannins to rest in, while good acidity keeps the fruit bright. A caramelized note pervades the wine, continuing through the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2010 Chateau Maris “Les Planels” Red Blend, Minervois La Liviniere, Languedoc, France
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of a muddy barnyard and rich black cherry and cassis fruit. In the mouth, spicy cassis and mulberry flavors have a creamy aspect and a dark loamy undertone. Good acidity keeps the wine bright, and a spicy/peppery note lingers in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20. click to buy.

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Via: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Vinography Images: Sonoma Sunrise


Sonoma Sunrise
The early morning light hits a patchwork of vineyards in Sonoma County.

Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as” and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this image please contact photographer Andy Katz through his web site.

Vinography regularly features images by photographer Andy Katz for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.

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Source: Vinography: A Wine Blog