De Long Blog

September 14, 2010

11

Comments

Wine, Food & Dance pairings

Schnitzel Waltz There was an article today at Decanter about an Argentinian wine tasting event that featured Malbec, steak and tango. Malbec, steak and nap sounds more like it for me, but it got me thinking: what other wine, food & dance pairings are there? Here's my list so far: Wiener Schnitzel - Grüner Veltliner - Waltz Tapas - Sherry - Flamenco Goulash - Egri Bikavér (Bull's Blood of Eger) - Csárdás BBQ - Zinfandel - Square Dancing Mousaka - Retsina - Sirtaki Shrimp - bling Champagne - Hip Hop Steak Frites - Bordeaux Rouge - Can Can There must be more. . .
May 17, 2010

1

Comment

314 Grape Varieties in a Day

The Wine Century Club celebrated its 5th anniversary on May 8th. On that day, members throughout the world collectively tasted 314 different grape varieties. The Wine Century Club is for wine adventurers who have tried at least 100 different grape varieties. It currently boasts 779 members from 21 different countries including Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Georgia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, the UK and the USA. If you think you have what it takes to join this intrepid group, see more about membership and applications at the Wine Century Club website.
November 23, 2009

26

Comments

The Making of an Italian Wine Map

Why does it take so long to make these things? Can't you just trace a bunch of maps supplied by the regions? I wish it were that easy. Funny enough, very few regions in Italy publish their own maps or really do much to tell the world that they exist. Take one of Basilicata's newer regions, TERRE DELL’ALTA VAL D’AGRI D.O.C. I would bet a lot of money that you haven't heard about it, much less had any of their wines. They were officially recognized as a region in 2003 and make red and rosé wines from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is all taken from the official regional document, which is also where we get the map information described in text: Le uve destinate alla produzione dei vini a DOC “Terre dell’alta val d’Agri” di cui al precedente art 2, devono provenire dai vigneti ubicati nei territori amministrativi dei seguenti comuni: Viggiano Grumento Nova Moliterno Tutti in provincia di Potenza Le uve potranno essere prodotte in vigneti coltivati fino alla quota massima di 800 metri s.l.m. Which translates into: The area below 800 meters (above sea level) in the communities of Viggiano, Grumento Nova and Moliterno. TERRE DELL’ALTA VAL D’AGRI This was actually a fairly easy region to document. Most of them resemble some sort of sat-nav from hell: RIVIERA DEL BRENTA D.O.C. Tale zona è così delimitata: partendo da via Valmarana in comune di Noventa Padovana all’intersezione della autostrada A 4 Serenissima, la delimitazione prosegue lungo questa strada verso est fino al semaforo, ove gira a destra verso il centro di Noventa Padovana lungo la via Roma; superato il ponte sul canale Piovevo il confine gira a sinistra lungo l’argine in via Argine Destro Piovevo per poi proseguire su strada bianca mentre il canale Piovevo delimita il territorio verso est fino a raggiungere il confine amministrativo tra Padova e Venezia. Da questo punto la delimitazione è rappresentata da tale confine fino all’ incrocio con la strada provinciale Vigonovese e percorre questa in direzione sinistra verso Villatora di Saonara lungo via III Novembre, alla fine della quale il confine svolta a destra in via XX Settembre e quindi a sinistra in via Mazzini fino al semaforo. A questo incrocio, girando a sinistra in direzione Saonara, si percorre la strada dei Vivai per uscire al primo svincolo a destra in direzione Legnaro e quindi a sinistra in direzione Sant’Angelo di Piove di Sacco lungo via Morosini. Allo stop la delimitazione gira a sinistra per entrare a Saonara in via Roma per poi proseguire diritta per la strada che diventerà prima via Valmarana e poi via Caovilla ed entrare quindi nel comune di Sant’Angelo di Piove di Sacco attraversando via Roma prima e via IV Novembre poi. Superato il centro di sant’Angelo di Piove di Sacco, in corrispondenza di una curva a gomito a sinistra di via IV Novembre, il confine gira a destra proseguendo fino al semaforo che incrocia la strada provinciale n. 12. Da qui gira a destra in direzione di Piove di Sacco lungo la via Alto Adige che successivamente diventa via Scardovara, per girare quindi a sinistra in via T. Vecellio, che percorre interamente fino al comune di Campolongo Maggiore da dove, all’intersezione con via Righe, gira a destra in direzione Corte. Oltrepassa quindi la ferrovia e prosegue fino al semaforo in centro del paese di Corte, da dove gira a sinistra per arrivare al fiume Brenta e oltrepassato il ponte, gira a sinistra in via Sampieri e quindi subito a destra in via Fiumazzo. Questa viene percorsa costeggiando l’argine, sino al confine provinciale tra Padova e Venezia da dove parte, sulla destra, il canale Cavaizza che rappresenta il limite sud-est del territorio delimitato, fino ad arrivare sulla strada statale n. 309 Romea. Il confine territoriale prosegue quindi verso nord lungo la strada statale Romea in direzione Venezia, fino al canale Seriosa (Km. 122,100), per girare a sinistra al semaforo, per via La Seriosa Veneta Sinistra verso località Casona; quindi attraversa il canale per proseguire lungo via Sabbiosa ed attraversare anche il Naviglio del Brenta e la strada statale n. 11 Padova – Venezia. Gira quindi a destra e poi a sinistra in via Risato e Bellin; lungo la via incrocia lo scolo Lusore, che diventa il limite dell’area seguendo lo scorrere naturale verso est fino al punto di raccordo con il canale Tron. Ripercorrendo il canale Tron verso nord si incontra via Ghebba (prosecuzione stradale di via Risato e Bellin) ed in direzione nord passa sotto l’autostrada A 4; si prosegue per via Oriago fino all’incrocio con la Miranese, quindi si gira a destra verso Mestre e poi a sinistra, verso nord, lungo via Risorgimento in direzione Asseggiano (Palazzo Friendenberg). La delimitazione gira successivamente a destra e subito a sinistra per via Martiri di Marzabotto (brevemente via della Spiga) e via della Vigna per riprendere via Martiri verso Case Dosa da dove, allo stop gira a sinistra lungo via Visinoni fino a Zelarino; al semaforo che incrocia la strada statale n. 245 Castellana gira a destra e poi a sinistra per via Scaramuzza e poi a destra in via Paccagnella fino ad incrociare la ferrovia la quale delimita il territorio verso nord fino ad intersecare via Gatta. Lasciata la ferrovia, il confine prosegue verso ovest lungo via Gatta fino alla via Molino Marcello che percorre fino a via Marignana, su questa gira a destra e poi a sinistra per via Chiesa Gardigiano fino ad incrociare via Nuova Moglianese Gardigiano, per girare quindi a sinistra ed entrare in frazione Cappella in comune di Scorzè. Arrivata all’intersezione con la strada statale n, 245 Castellana, la delimitazione gira a destra in direzione Castelfranco fino all’incrocio con via Manetti (km. 17,800) e quindi a sinistra in direzione Fossalta di Trebaseleghe percorrendo via S. Tiziano fino al centro di Fossalta, da qui gira a sinistra verso Massanzago ed al primo incrocio gira a destra per via Rustega sulla strada provinciale n. 44 per entrare quindi in comune di Camposanpiero lungo via Fossalta. All’incrocio la delimitazione gira a destra per via Borgo Rustega, quindi via Guizze di Rustega ed entra in comune di Loreggia e successivamente in comune di Camposanpiero oltrepassando anche Muson dei Sassi. Allo stop il confine gira a sinistra sulla strada statale n. 307 fino all’incrocio, per girare quindi a destra in direzione Cittadella in via S. Antonio, oltrepassa la ferrovia percorrendo la strada provinciale n. 22, esce dal comune di Camposanpiero, attraversa la località Fratte di S. Giustina in Colle, supera la ferrovia ed al km. 27,000 gira a sinistra in via Militare in direzione Villa del Conte; allo stop gira a sinistra in via Rettilineo attraversa in centro del comune di Villa del Conte per girare quindi a destra sulla strada provinciale n. 58 fino a San Giorgio in Bosco; da qui il confine supera l’incrocio con la strada statale n. 47 proseguendo fino al ponte di Carturo sul fiume Brenta strada provinciale n. 27 Giarabassa. Da qui è lo stesso fiume che verso valle delimita il confine ovest dell’area interessata fino al limite amministrativo del comune di Padova, segue questo fino all’intersezione con la strada statale n. 47 che percorre in direzione Padova fino al cavalcavia con l’autostrada A 4 Serenissima. Da qui sarà detta autostrada A 4 che in direzione Venezia delimita il territorio fino a raggiungere l’intersezione con la strada Noventa Padovana, via Valmarana e cioè al punto di partenza. (repeat 330 times) Fortunately (for our sanity) we are nearly done but unfortunately it will not be available until the New Year (January 2010). Thank you for your patience.
October 09, 2009

2

Comments

Tasting Terms: Blackcurrant

blackcurrant
“Everybody knows the blackcurrant bush.” -Le Nez du Vin, Jean Lenoir
Blackcurrant is the most common flavor descriptor of the most popular grape variety in the world: Cabernet Sauvignon. At least the British think so. American wine writers tend to use the term cassis, which is French for blackcurrant. You may be asking yourself: wait a minute - what’s going on here? I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a blackcurrant in my life, much less seen a blackcurrant bush. Am I supposed to know this? Is Bacchus once again laughing hideously at my woeful ignorance of wine? And when did American wine writers become such Francophiles that they use a French term over a perfectly good English one? Don’t be so hard on yourself. The reason that virtually all Americans are not familiar with blackcurrant is simple: until recently it was illegal to grow them in the US. Although popular in the 19th century in America, blackcurrants were banned in the early 20th century by the US government; their bushes can carry a disease fatal to white pines that threatened the then booming timber industry. The federal ban was finally lifted in 1966, but it took until 2003 for several states, including Connecticut, New York, Oregon and Vermont, to make it legal to grow blackcurrants in the US again. 1 OK, but what about American wine writers using French over English? That’s because their exposure to blackcurrant flavor was (and probably still is) through Crème de Cassis, a liqueur made from blackcurrants, which is more commonly known simply as “cassis” in the US. ribena-to-claret The British have a huge head start in being able to recognize blackcurrant. One of their most popular children’s drinks is Ribena, which is a sweetened blackcurrant drink. Is there any accident that their favorite wine region is Bordeaux, the homeland of Cabernet Sauvignon? They even have a special name for red Bordeaux wines : claret (which is pronounced with the t since it’s an English term, although derived from French). I can remember trying to get a grip on blackcurrant when I was living in New York City. Blackcurrant jam and Crème de Cassis were available but I wanted to find a more pure, unadulterated version. The best I could find was a Belgian brand of blackcurrant juice – which must be in the top ten of brand names that do not travel well – called Looza. It never really caught on. Go figure. looza In addition to Ribena, British children also enjoy blackcurrant flavored candies. This is where the attractiveness of blackcurrant gets lost on me – the candies seem to taste a little rubbery, rubber as in a Pirelli or a Goodyear. While some British children would eat only the blackcurrant candies in a pack of Maynard’s Wine Gums (interesting name but they contain no wine) I could imagine American children doing just the opposite. In this way, blackcurrant aromas can be perceived in sulfur compounds in wine that are often considered faults. These volatile sulfur compounds can be pleasant at lower levels (tropical fruit, gooseberry, blackcurrant) but awful at high levels (cat’s pee, burnt rubber, rotten cabbage).2 This seems to make sense as it’s not difficult to imagine the funky and gamey qualities of blackcurrant morphing into something foul. Perhaps this dark, potentially dangerous (and smelly) side is what makes blackcurrant so attractive. blackcurrant-012 We did a tasting of several Cabernet Sauvignons to see which gave us the biggest, purest sensation of blackcurrant. Five California fighting varietals vs. the popular South American, Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo took part in the smackdown. Each wine’s blackcurrant power is rated on a scale of 1(not detectable) to 10 (total blackcurrant pumptitude). Concha y Toro Castillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon Chile 2007 $10 Blackcurrants on steroids. It’s easy to spot the blackcurrants dominating some green pepper and vanilla oak notes on the nose and palate in this widely available Cab Sauv. 9/10 Bontera Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino County 2006 $16 The organic entry, this clean, pleasant and fruity wine’s blackcurrant flavors are in the back seat to raspberry and blackberry. 3/10 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005 $27 The blackcurrants here are more nuanced and nicely integrated with oak and mint flavors. It’s just too refined for pure blackcurrant pumptitude. 6/10 Sebastini Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2005 $16 A very attractive nose, blackcurrants and violets with a touch of oak. The fruit is very concentrated but the violets distract too much – albeit in a good way – to give it more than an eight. 8/10 Hawk Crest Cabernet Sauvignon California 2005 $14 This was the most subdued of the bunch with blackcurrant a virtual no-show. It’s much more sour cherry, cedar and Dr. Pepper. 2/10 Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon Vintner’s Blend California 2004 $10 Juicy blackcurrant with notes of black cherry and oak, the Ravenswood is a simple wine but it matches the Concha y Toro in blackcurrant intensity. 9/10 It was probably a forgone conclusion that the most inexpensive wines of the bunch would provide the simplest, most fruit-forward expression of blackcurrants. It’s a funny way to taste: we weren’t interested in balance, subtlety or nuance. We also kept referring back to our reference aromas: bottles of Crème de Cassis and Ribena. Still, it’s nice to know that you can get a good idea of what blackcurrant tastes like without shelling out too much; or enduring the embarrassment of buying a bottle of Looza. 1 For more information about blackcurrants and their history see black-currant.com 2 For more information about wine faults and blackcurrant flavors see Jamie Goode’s Wine Anorak and Tom Stevenson on the Wine Pages
June 09, 2009

7

Comments

Tasting Terms: Pear Drop

Pear drop is a term often used by wine writers to describe the flavor of Beaujolais Nouveau. These writers would all be British since pear drops are virtually unknown in North America. View full article →
April 30, 2009

1

Comment

Tasting Terms: Purity

purity pu⋅ri⋅ty [pyoor-i-tee] 1. the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.: the purity of drinking water. 2. freedom from any admixture or modifying addition. 3. ceremonial or ritual cleanness. 4. freedom from guilt or evil; innocence. 5. physical chastity; virginity. 6. freedom from foreign or inappropriate elements; careful correctness: purity of expression. 7. Optics. the chroma, saturation, or degree of freedom from white of a given color. 8. cleanness or spotlessness, as of garments. “This wine has great purity and elegance.” -fake generic wine note Purity is a wine term you will most likely hear more and more of. It’s one of those terms that can be easily misused by BS artists but has become an established term in wine vocabulary, especially by the proponents of real wine. Yesterday, at the Caves de Pyrene Real Wine show in London I was struck by how many time I heard the terms ‘purity’ or ‘pure’. The seemingly incongruous part is that many of these wines are funky, cloudy and completely the opposite of purity in the hygienic laboratory sense of the word. The Château du Cèdre Cahors Héritage which was mentioned in my previous post was there, this time the 2007 but still with a whiff of bretty earthiness. In this way purity a strange wine term since it doesn’t apply so much to the immediate tasting experience as the ideas behind the wine. Wine is pure or real because it is unadulterated. The terms real and pure in the wine world actually refer to the same thing: wine that has minimal intervention in the wine making process; wine that is as natural as can be without succumbing to the natural forces that would make it vinegar. The best description I know of real (or by extension, pure) wine is by Louis/Dressner Wines in 1999. It’s not an accident that these terms have grown in popularity since the wines they describe are some of the most delicious and interesting around.
April 21, 2009

7

Comments

Tasting Terms: Brett Bomb

brett-bomb
Brettanomyces ‘Brett’ is a yeast with many strains that imparts a wide range of flavors. Fairly common, especially in red wines. Considered by some to add desired character to wines when at low levels. Telltale aromas: earthy, horsey, barnyard, sweaty-saddle, manure, leather, smoked bacon, cheese, band-aid, antiseptic (from De Long's Wine Tasting Guides)
I came across the term "brett bomb" when I was researching a seriously delicious wine that was also a great value at approx. $10 - the 2004 Château du Cèdre Cahors Héritage. I googled it an found an interesting range of opinions that pretty much sum up the differences in old world and new world tastes in wine. cedreheritage2005Representing the Old World, Jamie Goode liked it:
. . . drinking Chateau du Cedre 2004 Cahors, which is inky, dark, tannic and gravelly. Yes, I'm back on wine, and I'm really enjoying it. Lying in bed, with a TV show on a laptop and a glass of wine in hand is like flying business class. Especially when the wine is authentic, too.
Representing the New World, Ray Johnson didn't:
The nose combines the rugged side of wine-love, with horse blanket, cheese and ripe berry fruit. In the mouth the wine is quite tannic and strongly reminiscent of the horse, certainly too much so for many drinkers. This is the negociant wine from the famous estate. Eleve et mis en bouteille a Vire-sur-Lot 13% $10.99 at Bottle Barn. Yes, this wine is just too rustic for most consumers of New World wine. What is disappointing is that it doesn’t have to be such a brett bomb. Cedre has a great reputation but this wine is not in that league.
Funny enough, their notes are very similar except for their tolerance of brettanomyces. Jamie makes a nod to it as gravelly and authentic, while Ray finds it a cheesy horse blanket (yuck!); indeed, a BRETT BOMB! To be honest, I really didn't notice the brett on my first tasting, noting just earthy leather which could be a lot of things. On a re-tasting - after reading Jamie's and especially Ray's notes - I did notice the brett more and with a little antiseptic band-aid flavor to it as well. Such is the power of suggestion. If you've ever been curious or not exactly sure of what Brettomyces tastes like, try to track down this wine. The 2004 is getting harder to find, but the 2005 illustrates this point as well, although with more fruit and less aggressive tannins. Since the wine is 90% Malbec, comparing it with a new world brett-free Argentinian Malbec - like Alamos - is an interesting and enjoyable comparison. Especially with a few steaks on the BBQ.
George Brett One of the greatest hitters in modern baseball history. Batting for the Kansas City Royals in Game 2 of the 1980 World Series, he left in the 6th inning with severe hemorrhoid pain. After minor surgery, he returned to hit a home run, leading the Royals to victory in Game 3. Although the Royals eventually lost the series to the Philadelphia Phillies, Brett became a hemorrhoids hero.
March 23, 2009

8

Comments

More Uses for Wine Maps

We will sell no wine map before its time. I'm pretty sure that Paul Masson did not say that over a century ago, but the words do apply here. After many production delays our Wine Map of California is finally available. Thank you for your patience! In the spirit of shameless marketing and selling more maps, I'd like to share a few more ways to use them: [caption id="attachment_349" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="California Wine Travel Planning"]California Wine Travel Planning[/caption] Mount the map on foamboard and use it to plot new adventures or to remember where you've been. You can also attach it to your windshield as a crude form of sat-nav (not recommended by the California Highway Patrol). [caption id="attachment_350" align="alignnone" width="700" caption="Wine Map Wallpaper"]Wine Map Wallpaper[/caption] The wine map wallpaper idea is the favorite of our marketing department since it involves purchasing a serious amount of maps. [caption id="attachment_351" align="alignleft" width="359" caption="Wine Map Drinking Game"]Wine Map Drinking Game[/caption] This is my favorite and the most fun. It was sent to me by Cathy Jones who snapped this shot from her husband's recent birthday celebration. In Cathy's words: He had taken up drinking an occasional Rioja after we traveled to Spain a few years ago. And he really liked your wine table that I bought for our anniversay last summer. Since then we have been trying to sample different varietals whenever we can. After getting your map, I made an impulse trip and purchased as many bottle of Spanish wines as I could find from the different regions. On his birthday, as he pulled each bottle from the box, we placed it on the map in the appropriate location. In this way, we were able to refresh our knowlege of Spanish geography and expand our repertoire of Spanish wines. We had quite a party after that. In fact, a couple of bottles "disappeared" before I thought to snap this picture. Needless to say, we are looking forward to your next map... Thank you Cathy! If you have any other creative ways to use these maps, please feel free to share them. A Year of Wine
February 02, 2009

3

Comments

California Delays

Malibu Wines On behalf of our crack map team, I apologize for the delay in releasing our California Wine Map. It will now be available March 24th. The saddest part is that the map's been 99% done for the past month and a half . It's as if we're trapped in Zeno's paradox. Or more aptly, that we've checked out but can never leave. . . In the meantime, here's a small chunk of the map around Ventura Highway. It may come as a surprise that Malibu has two official wine regions - Saddle Rock-Malibu and Malibu-Newton Canyon. Was this the result of Malibu Ken and Malibu Barbie splitting up?
December 16, 2008

3

Comments

Menu for Hope

Menu for Hope is a charity fundraiser supported by food and wine bloggers worldwide. It was started by Pim Techamuanvivit who blogs at Chez Pim and is now in its 5th year. Last year Menu for Hope raised over $90,000 for a school lunch program in Lesotho. Find out more about the Menu for Hope at Chez Pim. To help the cause, all you need to do is buy a $10 raffle ticket at First Giving - Menu for Hope and enter the prize code for prize you would like to win. The raffle runs between now and Christmas - please see below for more detailed instructions. Here's the prize we've donated (that you can bid on - hint, hint): Giant Wine Map of California California is the second in our series of wine maps. The regular retail size of this map is 24 x 36 inches, however, this one will be custom printed at a giant 4 feet wide by 6 feet tall. We're finishing the artwork right now, so be the first on your block (actually on the entire planet) to have a Giant Wine Map of California. To get a better idea of the style and quality, please take a look at our map of the Iberian Peninsula. The map of California will be just as obsessively accurate, up to date and - all importantly - suitable for framing (if you can find a frame that large). This item can only be delivered to US addresses. Estimated Value: $400. Prize Code:WB12 You can see more wine-related prizes at Vinography or the complete list of prizes at Chez Pim It's a tough year financially for so many people - especially the very poor - so if you can give please do. First Giving - Menu for Hope Donation Instructions: 1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at http://chezpim.com 2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope5 and make a donation. 3. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02 4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match. 5. Please allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.