Posts Tagged With: james bond

“Come Quickly, I’ve tasted the Stars”-Dom Perignon


     Dom Perginon, the French monk who discovered Champagne, a man who changed the wine game for everyone forever said this, and he was absolutely right, he did not think however that people would be drinking because of labels, and as a status symbol. Unfortunately this is what Champagne has become. Lets change this attitude by exploring the different and beautiful sparkling wines out there that are not 300 bucks a bottle.

My absolute favorite season for imbibing is approaching fast, bubble season.  Although I drink bubbly as often as I can, June July and August are the key seasons for it.  Champagne produced in the traditional method is the most important discerning factor in deciding what to buy. Traditionally Champagne is made from three grapes Pinot Noir (red grape), Pinot Meunier (red grape), and Chardonnay (white grape). It is fermented first in stainless steel vats, and then fermented again in the bottle.  The reason for the secondary fermentation in the bottle is to provide the bubbles. When yeast eats sugar two things are created alcohol, and carbon dioxide (in still wine the CO2 is usually bled off during the first fermentation).  The bottles of fizzy are then turned slightly everyday until they are vertical (riddling) this is done to bring the yeast (lees) to the top of the bottle so it can be frozen, and shot out of the top (degorging).  What happens to the space that is left?  Some producers don’t add anything to this void hence the size of the foil on the bottle, some use either a still red wine (rose), or a sweet mixture of grape juice syrup (Le dosage) to make it a little more user friendly.

Ok enough with the technical mumbo jumbo, lets get down to the fun part. Buying Champagne. Think to yourself, how ostentatious do I have to be? You don’t! Champagne and sparkling wine is meant to be fun and enjoyed with friends and the best of company, oysters don’t hurt either. Some people think that only the most expensive and austere brands of champagne are the best and that it is only catered to the super rich, when in fact it is specifically catered to people like you and me, we just have to find the right ones.  I have most of the secrets here for you

Generally speaking champagne is made in house at the winery, but from selected vineyards and growers in or around Champagne, France.  Some houses use up to 70 different bottles for each bottling.  These famous houses make great champagne but are not focused on terrior (sense of place), they are focused on a good consistent product that tastes the same year after year. This is fine and if you want to spend over 300 bucks a bottle for one go ahead.  But out of the 19,000 growers there is a small and focused group of about 5000 grower/winemakers that are emerging out of the woodwork of France and making some killer bottles of bubble.  These guys are called Recoltant-Manipulants, and the bottles they make reflect this status by having the initials RM on the label.  The cool thing about grower champagne is the winemakers approach to small production artisanal wines.  They are focused on bringing the truth out of the land and letting the sparkler show its true colors without manipulation; to me this is the truest form of winemaking and craftsmanship. You can pick up some of these grower champagnes most of the time for well under a hundred bucks, Pierre Peters blanc de blanc is great for about 50. Be careful though, a lot of theses bottles are released a little too early and may need some time in your cellar.

In northern Italy lies Lombardy, a region not generally known for making wine in the Country.  Inside Lombardy lies Franciacorta DOCG, which produces some of the best sparkling wines in the world.  Franciacorta is comprised of 85% Chardonnay, 10 % Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), and 5% Pinot Bianco (a white genetic mutation of Pinot Noir) is made in the traditional method or Metodo Classico (charmat method), and (the important part) has to be aged for 25 months after harvest and 18 months on the lees in the bottle.  This is all very similar to Champagne, and the wine shows it.  Very balanced and elegant in general with hints of biscuit and nice firm acidity compared to Champagne they are more round and approachable very easy to drink but sometimes lack the complexity of its Cousin in France.  May I suggest La Boscaiola brut for about $40.00, has some nice dried fruit characteristics complimented by a fruit driven apricot nose.

The USA certainly does not miss the boat on production of some stellar sparkling wine either.  You need to be careful here though because we do produce a lot of over-manufactured gas-injected sparklers.  You can still find awesome wine at great value here at home but you have to know what you’re looking for.  Luckily you have me.  Obviously California is the forerunner on all things grape, and they are definitely the standard in sparkling.  Try Schramsburg blanc de blanc, for about 40 bucks you can pick up a cave aged, small lot, malo-lactic, barrel fermented beauty. Vibrant and fruity this wine will do well and age for the next 5-15.  After all they drink it at the White House.  If your in to getting really adventuresome, go to the old west, just south of Truth and Consequences, yes Truth and Consequences, New Mexico.  The vineyard was planted in 1984 by a man named Gilbert Gruet, owner of French Champagne hosue Gruet et Fils, as he was traveling through the South-West United States.  As taken from their website “At 4300 ft. the vineyards are some of the highest in the United States, so regardless of how hot the days might be, the temperature at night can drop as much as thirty degrees, cooling the fruit and slowing down the maturation process on an otherwise short growing season. Sandy and loamy soil, and a lack of humidity that might contribute to rot, give us a consistency of fruit year in and year out, and allow us to produce our award winning wines without the use of pesticides.”  The last time I drank this Blanc de Noir, I had trouble discerning it from some of the best Champagnes I’ve ever had from France with fresh biscuits and strawberries, plenty of finesse and raspberry cream.

Throughout time Kings, Authors, British Spies, Dictators, Presidents, Actors, and Rappers have drank Champagne and all had something to say about it.  Now it is your turn to take out the people you love to your favorite restaurant or pick up a bottle at your wine shop and make an evening out of just the bottle.  No special occasion necessary, just get one you’ve never had before and don’t recognize by label and enjoy it, because drinking Champagne and enjoying it is a lifestyle, and you need to live it, trust me it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made and I would love to hear about it.

Categories: Champagne, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Men and Martinis


I know, I know its hard to associate a man and a martini. But listen up, lately I have been on a kick, and I Believe that if pulled off a martini can be a perfect compliment, and show that you really are a gentleman, which sadly there are very few left. Its hard to argue that what we have below are two examples of the quintessential gentlemen.

Lets talk closet attire first. Every man’s should, in my opinion, be at least 25% suits. I’m talking custom tailored suits. There is hardly a feeling than one of a custom suit. Why do men in our current age believe that a suit is only for work and not to be taken seriously. I mean if you drink lite beer and eat chicken wings, Your custom Lee jeans and Hanes tagless will do, however if you want to step into the world of “gentlemenism” you must take pride in your appearance first and foremost in order to even come close to being able to pull off a well made martini.

Second lets talk shoes for a quick second. They need to reflect your age. If taken care of a good pair of shoes will last you forever. I do not have a problem spending between 300 and 400 for a pair of well made shoes, as opposed to buying three pairs of square toed shoes.

Oh, drop the baggy clothes. They make us look like we are in college, besides the fact that baggy things make you look shorter

and fatter, they also make you look disheveled, and younger. Well fitting jeans, tailored, and an inexpensive sport coat, also fitted can make all the difference and not set you back a fortune. And get a nice watch !!! see Joe at CIR for details on that http://cigarsinreviewjoe.wordpress.com/

Back to the martini. A martini, should always be made with strictly spirits, no liquers, (peach, apple, grape). It should be stirred, not shaken, and it should always be garnished. Ordering a martini on say a date, will tell a lot about your personality, it will show that you are a man that is confident and takes control while ordering. Similar to ordering a bottle of vino, a real martini is a very delicate and specific thing. I prefer mine to be 3 measures 90 proof gin (london dry), one measure vodka (ketel one), and a dash of lillet blanc (orange bitters if lillet is not available), garnished with a orange twist. Obviously there may be many variations of a martini, and you will have to experiment with what you find to be the most interesting and intriguing, as a martini should be as vast and custom, as you are.

Lets talk about gin, which is crucial to any martini. Gin is a distilled spirit, primarily flavored with juniper berries, which makes it very vegetal in nature. In addition to juniper, it is usually made with amounts of citrus botanicals like lemon and bitter orange peel. Other botanicals that may be used include anise, angelica root and seed, orris root, licorice root, cinnamon, cubeb, savory, lime peel, grapefruit peel, dragon eye, saffron, baobab, frankincense, coriander, nutmeg and cassia bark. I prefer Hendricks Gin “Hendrick’s is an iconoclastically produced small batch gin distilled in Ayrshire, Scotland. Our unusual distillation process combined with our oddly delicious set of infusions yields a one-of-a-kind gin that is passionately loved by a tiny yet growing handful of individuals all over the world. No other gin tastes like it because no other gin is made like it.” (http://www.hendricksgin.com).

Lillet Blanc Is a French apertif wine, made in Bordeaux and is 85% wine, and blended with orange citrus liquors, and matured in oak casks.90-95 points Wine Enthusiast: “The rounded bouquet features tropical fruit notes of banana and guava, smells of ripe grapes, kiwi and a subtle spiciness.The palate entry is luscious, gently fruity and keenly acidic; midpalate flavors include kiwi, white grapes, raisins, and a vegetal quality. Finish is ripe, delicately spiced, and delicious. An old favorite.

So, There it is, entry level gentelmenomics for you. Enjoy your new found wisdom on Martinis, and if you have anymore interesting ideas for them let me know !

-Tony

Categories: Spirits | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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