The tale of a family can almost always be counted on to be filled with mystery, intrigue and a litany of interesting characters. Rare is the family for whom this is more true then the family Alvarez who own, and have successfully run, the Matusalem & Co. distillery ( http://www.matusalem.com/ ).
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Autumn, for me, is a man's time in the world and I mean that in the most sincere and genuine way!
The weather turns to a bit of chill, and the last amber sunshine burns brightly in the background as crisp winds rip across English Bay and put a nip in the air. It's a perfect time to pull the old Clan Aran knit, take a cigar and the hip-flask and go for a stroll down by the water. It's a time for a man to reconnect with old friends before the hecticness of Christmas, or some much deserved "me" time after too many barbeques and family vacations during the summer. Hiking boots, a well worn sweater, a good cigar and a few hours of peaceful solitude.
What better pairing then a good rum? And what better rum then Zaya 12-year Gran Reserva from Trinidad? Zaya is distilled by Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala, the same company that distills Ron Zacapa and Ron Botran, and is owned by http://www.infiniumspirits.com/ . The company has an impressive array of boutique spirits, and Zaya won gold at the Ministry of Rum competition in 2009 and double-gold at the San Francisco Spirit Competition of 2007. Impressive awards for a more then worthy contender.
Zaya 12-year Gran Reserva, Trinidad
$90 CAN (Alberta, not available in BC)
$30 US (California, up to $40 on the East Coast)
pale orange-gold color with caramel
fully intense bouquet starting with cedar and butterscotch/caramels, pure vanilla, exotic florals, hints almost of grilled pineapple
fully intense palate, mimicking well the nose; molasses notes certainly dominate the early and mid-palate... turns to more of the vanilla, caramel, toasted almond & exotic florals still there at the end
A beautiful rum to think about life with, this will evolve on your palate depending on what you're doing... sit by a fire and the smoky/peaty notes will come forward. Smoke a Cohiba and the 12 years in oak (after being distilled 5 times) will be well showcased. Walk along English Bay and the seasalt spray will make you glad you've a flask full of warmth!
Make time to smell the rum.
CIN CIN! SLAINTE!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Available in Great Britain (15 GBP), Spain (20 Euro), Chile
Not available in North America
- pale amber color with orangish-gold hues in the center, very strong legs indicative of high alcohol, high sugars
- Ron Cumay has a particular nose which is most often characterized by the licorice notes that dominate; followed by orange zest, cedar-like woodsy notes, honeyed apricot finish
- big mouth feel without flabbiness, this rum (ron) sits well and allows one the luxury of wanting to swirl a little to savor the nuances; orange and licorice certainly hit the palate with a moderate++ to full intensity, leaving little room for the other layers to come in until after 10 seconds or so... wood notes, minimal sugary finish
IMHO (In My Humble Opinion), this is a grown-ups rum. Don't drink this with cola (and if you must - try it with 2 parts rum to 1 part cola, or better yet 1 part ginger ale), drink this on it's own and at least taste the hard work someone has put into this... that being said, this would make a deadly "Dark & Stormy". I have enjoyed this many times with a cigar, from mild cigars to maduro, and have enjoyed its layers being pulled in different directions from the different cigars. It certainly has enough structure to handle a maduro, but not so much as to decimate a Macanudo or a Davidoff.
I much prefer this rum with (1) singular ice-cube to tone down the hot alcohol & allow some of the finer aromas a chance to really present themselves. Be warned though - just as with a fine wine, too much ice will numb the aromas almost completely, and thus, the flavors as well.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good Pinot Noir.
But! That begs the question: "What makes a good Pinot Noir - good?"
If we have learned anything ( learnt for my English colleagues) we have learnt that good Pinot Noir (*or any other varietal for that matter) expressed the terroir. Good wine talks to you about where it comes from and tells a little story about the way the chalky soil feels between your toes when you walk the vineyards in the mid-day sun. Good wine tells you how much someone labored, out of love, to show you the morning dew in May as it hangs a little too long on the spiderwebs and makes you believe in magic.Good wine transcends the limits of the grape and lets us feel another place (and sometimes another time).
2007 Louis Jadot Pinot Noir, Bourgogne (Burgundy)
12.5%, $22 CAN (BC)
- moderate- to light body, decent structure
I would suggest (IMHO) that this is a Pinot Noir in the style that my colleagues would want to serve slightly chilled in the summer. This is not, to my taste at least, a Fall Pinot crying out for bourguignon or cote du boeuf.
If you enjoy a lighter style of Pinot Noir, then try this at a party where everyone is going to be inside and you know its going to be a touch too warm... chill the wine to about 14C (fridge for 15 minutes) and serve with country-style terrine and a simple loaf of bread (preferably something light - not pumpernickel). Don't serve French cornichons because the acids in this are already at the uppermost level they can be without unbalancing the structure - try some candied almonds instead and watch the crowd go wild for more!
That's the feeling I got from the particular wine anyhow; sitting at a little boulangerie in the summer, a little too hot to eat a proper meal and so having some chilled Pinot and a small plate of food.... watching the lazy afternoon and procrastinating my inevitable return to work. What does this wine say to you?
CIN CIN!! SLAINTE!!
So all of you may know that the infamous Burghund or "Burghound" ( wwww.Burghound.com ) was in Vancouver, BC this weekend. Lucky me - I was invited to a private tasting and lecture that was held in his honor and with the infamous Allen Meadows presiding.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
My good friends at Marquis Wine Cellar (http://www.marquiswines.com/ ) have work diligently to bring the Burghund here to Vancouver for a series of tastings and seminars this coming month. In an effort not to be completely blank when people start talking about the great wines of Burgundy, I have opened a decent bottle of Pinot Noir, Bourgogne-style.
Bouchard Pere & Fils is an interesting wine story, as most stories that revolve around wine are. It turns out that the family can trace it's wine roots back to the wine routes of the early 1700's and an ancestor who dealt with the trading of cloth, and subsequently wine. "Why wine?" you ask. "Why not!" I retort.
The photo (courtesy of the Burghund) tells the whole story. Really, who wouldn't want to be involved in this? But seriously there must be a good family story in there somewhere, and maybe one day I'll have the chance to learn it.
What I do know is that this dedicated family now has over 150 hectares of planted vineyard & is producing note-worthy wines (the notes are everywhere on the Net). One of the most predominant notes (for me) was the Burgundy report of 2009 ( http://www.burgundy-report.com/autumn-2009/bouchard-pere-et-fils-2009-update-2007s/ ) which says that the main problem for Bouchard's 2007 vintage isn't the wine itself, but rather the export market! That is to say, French winemakers are finding the same challenge faced by our own winemakers here in the New World: A Depressed Economy.
Fortunately, Bouchard makes wines for every budget, and the Reserve Pinot Noir comes in at a modest $22 CAN in BC and around $15-$17 in the US... good value, very good value indeed, when I look at the sadly small number of New World wines of quality that are sold for a similar price.
2007 Reserve Pinot Noir
12.5%, $22 CAN (BC)
- visually a light ruby color with slight brickish rim
- after being opened and vacu-sealed for 2 days:: pronounced fully intense aromas of Burgundian terroir (leathery gamey meat) I swear to god I smell calves liver and venison - please don't judge me - it's really what I smell. Fruit in the background - black and red berries
- moderate+ acids, moderate+ chalky tannins, moderately intense palate similar to the nose but milder... soft leathery oak, a presence of gamey meat with the red berries coming through with more vigor, especially red currants and a dash of blackberry
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
What is Rhone style wine? I tell you honestly, until only a week ago I really had no idea what it was.
Today is a different story. Upon tasting the Gigondas, and comparing it to my recent excursions into Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I am rapidly coming up to speed on the flavor profile of Rhone style reds.
Imagine my utter surprise then upon opening a bottle of Argentinian Syrah and smelling leathery oak, bloody gamey meat, deep black & red baie rouges (especially red and black raspberry) and a lingering hint of garrigue (bay leaves & wild thyme). It is the first time I've ever had such depth from an Argentinian Syrah and all I can say is: "I want more."
2007 Reserva Syrah from Luigi Bosca, Argentina
14.5%, $25 approximately in Alberta - not available in BC **EXCELLENT VALUE**
- deep plumy garnet center with marked brickish rim
- moderate++ to fully intense nose; notes above
- moderate+acids, moderate+(+) tannins, moderate+ intense flavors very in-line with the nose with the marked appearance of lilies and irises; a distinct floral hit on the palate
- moderate body, moderate+ hot alcohol, very good structure and good balance
A great find, even if it was my father who found it and gave me a bottle (*grin*). If it was available in BC, it would be about $32-$35 and even at that price, still (IMHO) a great value. This to me immediately brings to mind the fines vintages of Gigondas (most likely as I was drinking it only yesterday)... rich and full of flavor and punch, perhaps it lacks a little in finesse, especially at the end of the palate - this wine is also only 3-4 years old and could easily age another 4-6 years I believe.
Drink with pasta bolognaise (as I'm doing right now to marvellous success), braised lamb shank or beef short ribs.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Those who are "in the know" (Robert Parker for one, and Mike - my product consultant at the local BCLB Speciality Store for two) say that Domaine Brusset ( http://www.domainebrusset.fr/ ) is the premier winery of the Gigondas.
My wife (Mrs AStudentOfWine) and I were to have a somewhat celebratory dinner & those who know my wife know she loves, nay, adores the classic Chateauneuf du Pape blend of Grenache, Syrah & Mouvedre. Those who know me, know that I rarely can afford said classic blend (starting at $60 CAN in BC, but really costing $90+++ for a decent wine.
And so I stopped by my local BCLB spec store & told my woes to Mike, who recommended the Domaine Brusset "Tradition Le Grand Montmirail". We drank it with a beouf bourguignon with crimini mushrooms & roast elephant garlic & loved every drop!
2007 Domaine Brusset, Gigondas,
Tradition Le Grand Montmirail
14%, $34 CAN (BC) **FANTASTIC VALUE**
- visual deep ruby centre with slightest brick rim
- deep moderate++ intense nose starting off with lots of black and red fruit (baies rouges, etc); black & red raspberry, leathery oak (only new French oak is used for this blend & it shows), levels of bloody, gamey meatiness (in the best of all possible ways)
- moderate+ acids, moderate++ tannins, moderate++ intense palate: the palate mimics the nose impeccably
- moderate body, very good structure and balance, slightly hot alcohol
Love Chateauneuf-du-Pape? You will adore this.
Friday, September 3, 2010
It wasn't much to look at, a small rancher-style home with a short gravel driveway. There was a sign leading us towards what looked like the patio of the home, but waiting on the other side of the patio glass doors was another world. A tastefully minimalist decorated sitting room with truly artisan wines - and I mean world class. The winemakers wife was pouring small samples for us, and everything we tried that day was well worthy of comment.
And comment I did! "Oh the Pinot Noir!" I exclaimed!
"Well why don't you buy a bottle?" Mrs Astudentofwine asked.
"I couldn't," I said. "I just couldn't."
You see, we had already bought over a case of wine, and it was only day 3 of our mini-vacation. I had to show restaint. I had to show that I wasn't going to be a slave to my senses... I persevered and stubbornly refused to buy the $22 bottle of Pinot Noir that I was yearning for. It was my wife who paid for that stubborness.
For almost a year to the day - she listened to me endlessly as I extolled the many virtues of Silk Scarf and their mighty Pinot... "truly one of the great Pinots of BC!"I would say.
My wife detests Pinot Noir.
And so this year was more then a vacation for me: it was the fullfillment of a year's anticipation. And it was also a test for myself, in a very real and genuine sense...
Last summer I was a neophyte; completely unschooled in Wine. This year I had the ISG Level 1 under my belt, tasting notes on over 500 wines; a new outlook... would I taste the Silk Scarf wines the same way?
- brilliant wine. Brilliant value! This wines smells like a $60 wine and drinks like a $40(+) wine. Any way you look at this, it's great value for you (and me). Serve with terrine, cold smoked chicken sandwiches, smoked duck carpaccio (etc)
2009 Riesling Muscat
$22 **EXCELLENT VALUE**
moderate+ intense nose filled with German style Riesling notes: plastic, petrol - slightly hot alcohol and then the Muscat at the end with soft exotic floral and fruit
moderate+ acids, long dry chalky finish, moderate+ intense palate of cherries in all their gloray, honeyed apricot, Anjou pear finishes
Brilliant. I know I'm repeating myself -but wonderful wine. This is my ideal match for a slow roast of pork loin with roast apples & Calvados pan jus.
moderate- intense nose of cherry blossoms, vanilla & orange zest
moderate+ (lemony) acids, long long citrus finish with a minor appearance from the cherry notes
I thought this would be a lovely pairing with dessert! Try it with a black forst cake and watch how the acids balance out the richness of the cake. Other ideas>? How about with a terrine of foie gras and once again, the acids will balance the decadent richness
(13 months french oak)
visually rich ruby, showing a slight brickish rim
nose is moderate intense; some hot alcohol off the top, followed by red berries fruit (baie rouges) especially red and black currants, slight dusty finish
moderate++ acids, moderate++ tannins, moderately intense palate with the flavors matching the nose impeccably
I would say to give this wine another year or so in bottle to allow the tannins to soften, allowing the fruit fuller expression. Then I would serve it with a simple beef carpaccio or preferably steak tartare.
2006 Pinot Noir
(not available any longer)
moderately intense nose of dusty chalky cherries in all their splendor
moderate acids, moderate tannins, moderate body with the palate mimicking the nose impeccably
lovely wine to sip on it's own - or serve it with a lightly seasoned roast beef
2007 Pinot Noir
$32 **Very Good Value**
brickish rim with moderate ruby centre
same nose but with just a hint of pepperiness (milder then a shiraz)
moderate++ to full- acids, moderate+ tannins, thinner body then usual - one hopes that another year in bottle may balance it out
2007 Shiraz Reserve
$60 **World Class Wine**
(18 months French oak)
here they are using marvellous technique and laying the wine with Viognier skins - dazzling what it does to the dimensions and levels of flavor
Fully intense unique bouquet: floral notes from the Viognier and garrigue from the Shiraz - layers upon layers
moderate+ acids, full+ acids, fully intense flavors that mimick the nose but include 85% dark chocolate, and dark berries like blackberries and perhaps mild saskatoons
If you have the money - BUY THIS WINE. Seriously. I could open this with any of my wine-geek friends and they would all drool.... serve with duck confit and a smoked onion & cherry compote on toasted brioche.
A world class winery in a sleepy town in Summerland, BC. There are very few restaurants carrying these wines right now - but they are all places I know and respect: John Bishop's, Blue Water Cafe, Cin Cin, etc... come and discover for yourself what a few of us lucky people have been hoarding to ourselves!