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Spanish and Portuguese Discoveries

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Scene from Mibal vineyards in Ribera del Duero

Scene from Mibal vineyards in Ribera del Duero


I am back from the Iberian Peninsula having traveled through some of the oldest vineyards in the world, yet discovering some of the freshest, newest wines from the region. Stay tuned for each installment of the trip.  From Bierzo to Lisboa, there are some great wines, people, food and scenes to be revealed.


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C.V.N.E. Rioja Tasting

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Rioja is perhaps the most famous fine wine region in Spain.  Located in the north, along the Ebro River, this region produces red, white, and rose wines in the same fashion as their neighbor to the north, Bordeaux.  In fact, during the latter half of the 1800s the wine industry here was revolutionized by an influx of French winemakers looking to ply their craft as the vine lout ravaged French vineyards.

It was then that full-bodied dry reds with robust ripe tannins became the norm.  Like Bordeaux, Rioja offers several varietals in the production of wines.  For reds, Tempranillo, Graciano, Carignan, and Grenache.  For white Viura, Malvasia, and Grenache Blanc.  Also like Bordeaux there are distinct sub districts to Rioja, which produce different style of wines.  The three are Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, and Rioja Baja.  The first two are cooler; producing more concentrated and age worthy wines.

On March 5th we tasted through a lineup of great Rioja from CVNE, one of the oldest and greatest wineries in the region, and producer of the 2013 Wine Spectator wine of the year.

Read about the wines

The wines from CVNE are Rioja Alta and Alavesa, divided between the CVNE line in Bordeaux bottles, and the Vina Real line in Burgundy shaped bottles. These are winery clues to the stylistic differences implied. The former seeking more power and tannin, the later seeking more aromas.

The first wine of the tasting was the 2012 Monopole Blanco, a deliciously supple, medium bodied dry white. 100% Viura, this pale wine with hints of hedge flower in the nose and tropical fruit flavors has just enough acidity to match with most lighter seafood.

The second wine was the 2010 CVNE Crianza. A wine aged a year in barrel and a year in bottle. The result is a delicious Tempranillo based wine with hints of raspberry and a clean, dry finish. Perfect value here, very well balanced.

Next up was the 2009 Vina Real Crianza. Primarily an Alavesa wine, with one more year bottle aged than the wine before, you get even more raspberry fragrance from a soft tannin, dry and cleanly balanced red.

The third wine of the evening was the 2006 Vina Real Gran Reserva. From some of the best vineyards in Rioja Alta, this wine has 10 per cent Graciano with the rest primarily Tempranillo and undergoes extensive aging in French and American oak . This wine is a big step up in volume: More vanilla, more black fruits, more supple tannins and very aromatic, with notes of cedar and spice just waiting to push forward with additional bottle age. Simple delicious.

Our final wine was the 2005 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva, a worthy successor to last year’s wine of the year. The Imperial is made only in special vintages and from the Alta district. The style and quality of this particular bottling sums up simply what great Rioja is all about. A delicious mix of spice, smoke, cedar, and supply velvety tannins make this wine not only delicious now, but a treasure to be stored away in any serious wine collection. For lovers of both Bordeaux and Burgundy this wine represents a tremendous bargain and should not be missed.

Author: Ian T Reilly


Try some CVNE today!


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Don Ciccio Amalfi Liqueurs

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The Amalfi coast strikes many a visitor or moviegoer with its beautiful sunshine, seaside cliffs, fresh seafood, and world famous liqueurs.  We recently tasted a line of pure infusions from this famed region and were greatly impressed.  Whether the famed Limoncello from native lemon rinds, Mandarinetto, Finocchietto, Fico d’India, or Concerto, one is sure to find a favorite.

Each in the line up is all natural…no colors or flavorings as in most brands.  The citrus based ones are pure and refreshing with just the right amount of acidity.  The Limoncello needs no further introduction. The Concerto reminds me of a Christmas spiced loaf, perfect for dessert.  The Fico d’India is a prickly pear base, and with its sweet and sour tones,would find a great home in an artisan gin cocktail.

Perhaps my favorite is the fennel.  Not too sweet, it has just the right amount of licorice flavor to serve on its own or in your favorite drink,

Come welcome the hope of warm weather with these great products!

Author: Ian Reilly

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Ramey Wine Cellars Tasting

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On October 16th, George Staikos of Ramey Wine Cellars presented his great wines to us in a special in store tasting.  Founded by David Ramey, a legendary winemaker who helped make Simi, Chalk Hill, and Dominus famous, Ramey wines are now the benchmark standard of balanced and complex Chardonnay and age worthy reds.

Ramey wines are those rare California examples where warm climate fruit is harnessed in a way to produce rich, full flavored wines that are in balance and actually develop character with bottle age.

Read about the wines tasted:

Ramey Chardonnays tasted that night included 2010 Sonoma Coast, 2009 Hyde Vineyard, and 2010 Platt Vineyard. Here we find no ambivalence. These wines are crafted to emulate the finest of white Burgundy. Each of these highly rated wines combines extended sur lie aging extract with a deft touch of oak and proper acidity that calls you back for sip after sip. We were only missing the lobster! The Sonoma Coast offered great lively acidity along with a moderate mineral, celery and apple finish, reminiscent of a Meursault. The Platt was similar, but with greater volume, a real California Grand Cru. Lastly, the Hyde was the roundest, and , most buttery of the lot.

We also tasted the 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Another 94 point star, in which we find a wine that cries for cellar age. Hiding beneath the ripe tannins is a wine that is certain to develop complexity, as this example has for vintage after vintage.

The final wine of the evening was the 2010 Rodgers Creek Syrah. Unknown to many, California is a great source for Syrah. In the hands of David Ramey we find a wine crafted in the Hermitage style. Partial whole cluster, Viognier and 100% new oak produce a wine that is bid, smoky, with hints of cranberry and bacon…just as you would expect. Put this away for a few years, it is tremendous.

Author: Ian Reilly


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An Evening Tasting 2011 Burgundy

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Recently M. Cedric Ducote of Domaines Devillard treated us to a tasting of 2011 Burgundy from their various estates in Macon, Mercurey, Givry and the Cote d’Or.

Devillard has extensive holdings in top site vineyards, and the tasting provided a great chance to discover how delicious 2011 is in Burgundy, as well as find out how great 1er Cru Mercurey and Givry rouges can be.

The highlights of the evening were of course the Domaine des Perdrix Nuits St. Georges aux Perdrix and the Echezeaux.  Devillard’s Echezeaux is in a prime spot, right next to Domaine Romanee Conti.  The wine was already singing; silky, round and deep, promising a great reward in the next five years.

However, I was most surprised by their Macon Aze.  It is a fabulous bargain and a perfect expression of Chardonnay: round and rich, yet not heavy or cloying.

The Domaine de la Ferte Givry Servoisine and Chateau de Chamirey Mercurey Les Ruelles were also stunners, as not only do they offer a rich, balanced Pinot Noir experience, but also provide a level of class and breed not often found in this AOC.

These are wines that best most Oregon reds I have had, and many village wines from the Cote d’Or as well.

These treasures will be arring in our shop shortly, and I highly recommend stocking up!

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Domaine des Perdrix Echezeaux


Author: Ian Reilly

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Ed Tiedge, master distiller

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Recently Mr. Ed Tiedge owner and distiller at StillTheOne Distillery in Westchester New York visited our store to show off his excellent spirits.  Founded in 2010, Ed became the only person in the country to distill mead (honey wine) into tremendous Brandy, Vodka and Gin.

Using a European pot still, each creation is truly hand made and exceptionally pure.  During his visit he also presented his new white Cuban styled rum and wheat whiskey.  Find below some tasting notes.  Ed is the most talented distiller in New York and makes a complete line of great spirits that belong on every bar.

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Comb 9 Gin: A classic “American Dry” gin for lovers of balanced juniper aromas and bite, this is a gin that puts to shame the old green bottles with its purity and clean, bitter free drinking.

Byram River Rum:  Made from a mix of sugar and molasses, this white rum is perfect in any drink, from Cuba libre to Mojito.  No burn or dirty flavors here, just  a clean and creamy rum.

Westchester Wheat Whiskey:  A pot still wheat, golden in color and wonderfully fragrant.  The finish is moderate with a nice biscuit finish.

Author: Ian Reilly

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A Chablis tasting with Julien Brocard

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As the northern most district of Burgundy, the small village of Chablis and its surrounding vineyards produce some of the most exquisite white wines in the world.

Recently, Julien Brocard of Domaine Jean Marc Brocard visited us at the store and guided us through a tasting of his wines.

Central to his winemaking philosophy is the use of organic viticulture, and allowing the proper expression of his northern latitude and chalk infused soil.

The wines he presented are some of the greatest values in white Burgundy…….

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The first wine we tried is the only Burgundy where Sauvignon Blanc is used. A 2011 St. Bris, this white is round, with hints of chalk and white fruits and little grassiness. This is a perfect wine for those tired of sweet and over manipulated wines from New Zealand. The rest of Julien’s wines are from Chardonnay vineyards.

The second wine presented was the 2011 Bourgogne Kimmeridgien, a wine from just south of Chablis, where the soils of ancient seabeds impart a mineral, saline character to this medium bodied, clean white Burgundy. The third wine presented was a 2011 Petit Chablis, which is a sub appellation in Chablis. Here, the limestone soils produce a crisp, refreshing white that tends to be a bit fruitier that Chablis.

Next up was the 2011 Domaine Ste. Claire Chablis, a white from the village of Prehy. Here, the wine has the crunch of minerality that makes Chablis famous, with aromas and flavors of citrus. The wine is very clean and fresh, yet also round and savory. It sees no wood.

A big step up in volume are the two Premier Cru Chablis, the first a 2011 Vau de Vey. This very steep vineyard produces a remarkably mineral nose, with white flower aromas and a long finish. Here, the grapes are completely organic, and fermentation completely natural. A personal favorite. The second Premier Cru was the 2010 Valorent, a subsection of the great Fourchaume site. Almost grand cru weight here, this wine is richer, with a savory mouth feel, and a toasty-ness that is long and satisfying.

We finished up with a 2008 Bougros, the one Grand Cru of the night. Here, we taste Chablis in its full intensity; present are the chalk and saline flavors of the soil, aromas of white fruits, along with great extract, with a long finish that needs time to open up. As is tradition, this wine is reared in large old oak vats that add to the complexity of the fruit. All in all, it was a great evening, as we rediscover the greatness and value of the wines of Chablis and of Brocard!

Author: Ian Reilly

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