Friday, April 10, 2009

Zind-Humbrecht 'Clos Hauserer' Riesling 2006

Winery: Zind-Humbrecht

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: Alsace (Clos Hauserer)

Varietal: Riesling

Oak: No

Average Price: €40

Tasting notes: Very intense ripe yellow color. This is a very classic Riesling. You pick up flowers, honey, fresh nuts and elderflower. The taste is rich with a hint of Riesling sweetness, but the overall attack is pleasantly dry. One of my favorite Rieslings in the world.

Food Pairing Suggestions: I tried this with Cauliflower crème and scallops – and it was very memorable. I think though, that I will spend the most of my summer in Kings Garden (Copenhagen) with a bottle or three, my closest friends and family – and some shellfish. If you ever come by, call me and I will invite you over.

Winery Notes: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht is a very special Domaine. This wine is made from the Clos Hauserer part of the famous Grand Cru vineyard of ‘Hengst’. The Domaine is very strict biodynamic, and all their wines are very enjoyable. Try every wine in their range – the Pinot Gris and Gewurz are also among the best in the world.

Rating: (3 out of 5) Party!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cava at its best

Pares Baltà, Blanca Cusinè Brut 2006, Penedès

Simon Juhl Olesen is a 24 year old Sommelier from Denmark. He currently works in the heart of Copenhagen, in the restaurant Le Sommelier. All his gastronomic education was gathered in Spain, where he has lived most of his life. The last two years before coming to Denmark he was a teacher/Restaurant chef in a restaurant school “La Fonda” in the south of Spain. He also spent time in the 1 star Michelin restaurant Guggenheim in Bilbao. Among other things he is a three time winner of the Andalusian championship for Sommeliers and in top 10 Spanish Sommelier. In his free time he enjoys playing golf if the weather allows it. If you want to contact him you can do so on:

Winery: Pares Baltà

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: D.O Penedes

Varietal: 59.5 % Chardonnay. 40.5 % Pinot Noir

Ageing: The Pinot Noir goes through the malolactic fermentation and then 2 month ageing with the lees. The Chardonnay stays on stainless steel tanks. The second fermentation in bottle goes on for 26 month.

Average Price: 15 €

Tasting Notes: Yellow color with golden tints. On the nose complex and subtle aroma with delicate notes of almonds, hazelnuts, honey and prickly pear. In the mouth it is fresh and round. Notes of preserved fruit together with flavors of almonds and honey. Long and complex finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions: This Cava can be enjoyed as the welcoming drink with the typical spanish tapas like the Iberico ham and Manchego cheese. Used in a menu, I would pair this great Cava with something tasteful and with a natural sweetness. For example; Roasted Scallops with a carrot pure white asparagus and a lobster bisque.

Winery Notes: Pares Balta was started in 1790, when the first wine plants were planted. In 1978 the bodega was bought by Joan Cusinè Hill. Joan Cusinè Cusinè, son of Joan Cusinè Hill took over after his dad and today there is the second generation running the bodega. Grandsons Joan and Josep Cusinè Carol brought a more modern aspect to the bodega and to the Penedes area.

Vintage Notes: 2006- After a normal autumn and winter concerning rain and temperatures, the spring was extremely dry, this only made the plants stronger and better. The summer was very hot as usual. The result of a very hot year was that the fruits maturation was slightly advanced.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Battle of the First Growths

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

Wearing my favorite Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran T-shirt, I find my self staring down at two glasses of deep ruby red wine. A battle in itself was about to ensue. The 2000 Chateau Margaux vs. 2000 Chateau Latour in a battle to the death, or should I say digestion! I learned a lot about these wines while tasting them over a one hour period. My initial thoughts were that the Latour was much more impressive and dense, and I felt that the Margaux was a bit lack luster on the palate but showed impressive aromatics. Over the next hour both wines saw improvement with the Margaux gaining ground on the Latour. The Margaux began to really show it true colors, this is a wine about aroma and flavor, there were layers of complex aromatics and tons of fantastic tastes to discover on the palate. There is a certain grace to Margaux that I don't believe is matched by anyone else. The Latour stayed true to its pauillac Cabernet roots. This wine was dense and full of classic Cabernet backbone. The structure and quality of fruit were impressive to say the least. The Chateau Latour made a clear statement of pedigree and position among the greatest in Bordeaux and quite possibly the world. These wines do require a lot of thought to get the most out of them but I find that an equal amount of humor is required too. I was happy to be enjoying such wonderful wines and made it a point to laugh, enjoy, and relax to better savor the moment. Grand wines deserve adoration but it's important to remember that having fun with it is just as much apart of the enjoyment of wine as tasting. Notes to follow:

2000 Chateau Latour- A layered and complex nose full of blackberry, rhubarb and plumb aromas followed by hints of black raspberry, vanilla and a touch of caramel. The palate is bold and impressive. Sporting a seriously complex mid palate of ripe baked fruits and long well structured finish, this wine has made a statement. I AM THE BEST AND I'LL ONLY IMPROVE WITH TIME.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 (Sit down wine, Classic wine, Special occasion wine)

2000 Chateau Margaux- A truly ethereal nose of lavender, black cherry and ripe strawberry complemented by hints of oak spice and vanilla shortbread. On the palate More succulent red and black fruit flavors with floral complexities and well balanced, beautifully structured, mouth feel. This wine is powerful and elegant at the same time, what a lovely treat.
Rating: 4 of 5 (Classic wine, Special occasion wine)

A Toast under the Trees

Melinda Joe is an American-born sake and wine professional living in Tokyo, Japan. She works as a freelance journalist and is the bar editor of the award-winning Tokyo Food Page ( Melinda loves eating, drinking, and witty repartee. Visit her blog Tokyo through the Drinking Glass at

Spring has taken the hand of Tokyo, and the city is blushing. For a few brief days every spring, people of all ages, across all economic brackets, turn out in droves to revel under the cherry trees. For reasons buried deep in the Japanese psyche, the fleeting appearance of the cherry blossoms carries tremendous cultural significance. O-hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, represents both the celebration and mourning of beauty’s transience, concepts that run closely parallel to the drink-fuelled merriment and subsequent hangovers that tend to accompany these parties.

For those of us in here in Tokyo, precious little time remains to catch the blossoms at their most poignant. Cascades of delicate pink petals have begun to carpet the ground, and the sakura will disappear completely in a day or two.

Capitalizing on the hanami craze this month, several wine retailers have been shrewdly pushing sparkling roses. Indeed, a perfect afternoon under the cherry trees might include a chilled bottle of strawberry-soft Moet et Chandon Rose, or a delicate Perrier Jouet Rose Fleur de Champagne, which comes in a fittingly floral bottle.

Of course, there’s no need to spend a wad of cash on booze for your party. These occasions rarely end in poetic meditations on life, death, and beauty; they’re more about cutting loose and having a good time with friends. All too often, this translates into over-consumption of cheap beer - or worse, happo-shu, a beer-like abomination made with little or no malt. Just because the group of salarymen beside you is getting trashed on crap, though, doesn’t mean you have to. Here are two picks for more civilized blossom viewing.

Les Terres du Sud Rose, a blend made exclusively for Japanese importer The Vine by Louis Barroul of St. Cosme in Gigondas, offers aromas and flavors of juicy red berries overlaying a dry, crisp midpalate. It’s versatile, with fresh acidity, and marries with a wide range of foods. Try it with veggie sticks and roasted red pepper hummus, sweet soy-glazed chicken meatballs, or a grilled vegetable salad tossed with anchovy dressing and lemon zest.

Product name: Les Terres du Sud Rose 2007 Vin de Table
Varietals: 80% Grenache, 20% Cinsault
Average Price: Y1995
Categories: Value, Party, Food Friendly
Rating: 2.5

Named for the white-blossomed Rikyubai tree in the brewery's courtyard, Rikyubai Kasumi Junmai Ginjo is a fabulously food-friendly usunigori, or lightly cloudy, unpasteurized sake from the Osaka region of Japan. This refreshingly dry, finely textured usunigori insinuates melon and Japanese pear on the palate and pairs very well with aromatic herbs and dishes with a hint of spiciness – seared katsuo (bonito) scattered with bright shiso and scallions, smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés with fresh dill, Thai green papaya salad.

Brand name: Rikyubai Kasumi Junmai Ginjo Usunigori Nama Genshu
Producer: Daimon Shuzo
Milling rate: 55%
Alcohol %: 15 - 16
Average Price: Y1680
Categories: Super Value, Party, Food Friendly
Rating: 2.5

Both of these bottles make terrific picnic companions. As the cherry blossoms make their quiet exit, Tokyoites are gearing up for our next opportunity to take to the parks: Golden Week.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mantinia Moschofilero 2008 - Tselepos Estate

Vassilis Papadopoulos was born on December 18, 1978 in U.S.A. and currently lives in Athens – Greece. He is a sommelier & wine consultant, working freelance with restaurants, wineries, magazines and websites. He is a co-owner of the “Kazakos Drink Bank” (wine and spirits stores in Athens) administrating more than 1.700 different worldwide wine labels and thousands bottles which lie in the cellars of the stores. Also he is the president of the “KWC”, a Greek wine club which has more than 400 active members and organizes wine tastings, wine dinners, wine trips and more. You can contact him on:

Brand: Mantinia Tselepos

Winery: Tselepos Estate

Vintage: 2008

Appellation: Mantinia AOC (GreecePeloponnesus)

Varietal: Moschofilero

Winemaker: Yiannis Tselepos

Oak: No Oak

Type: Dry White Wine

Alcohol: 12%

Vineyard: Selected vineyards from the communities of Lithovounia, Agiorgitika and Zevgolatio.

Wine Making: Modern technological winemaking with the method of skin contact at 10oC for 8 hours. The fermentation is carried out at low temperatures of 12oC.

Production: 200.000 bottles

Average Price: 9€

Category: Party + Authentic! Reasonably priced and high quality crowd pleaser. Also a wine that strongly express terroir.

Rating: 4,3 (on a 1 - 5 scale)

Tasting Notes:

Made from the noble Moschofilero Greek grape comes the white Mantinia Tselepos AOC wine. Light yellow color with some gray hues. The nose is very floral, white flowers and rose. Also citrus, lime, minerals and mint. In the mouth medium intensity aromas but elegant with a fresh lemon acidity. Medium finish. It will be best to drink it fresh and young, but may hold a bit longer. Best served at 10o - 12o C.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Salads, soups and seafood

Winery Notes:

Founded in 1989, with its first vintage in 1995, Tselepos Estate today releases about 300,000 bottles a year. French trained owner Yiannis Tselepos received his oenology degree in Dijon and worked in Burgundy. He does great work with local grapes, but also makes good international wines like Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer. The Estate's vineyards are situated at altitudes higher than 750m, at the foothills of Mt. Parnon and are part of a distinctive ecosystem with very cold winters and mild summers. They cover 25 hectares planted with 5 different varietals. The Estate's winery austere and functional at the same time, it is, above all, a working winery where the No 1 objective is the creation of good wine. Visitors have a chance to follow closely how wine is made in a state-of-the-art Greek winery. The winery is equipped with pneumonic presses, cooling installations, stainless steel tanks, underground ageing cellars, French oak barriques and an iso-barometric bottling line, operating in an air-vacuum.

Vintage Overview (2007):

The zone of Moscofilero has noticeably suffered from the drought because it is a region where usually we have sufficient rain falls. The production was at the level of 50 %, while the quality of grapes was excellent. The price increases have followed the general rule, the most at the level of 40-45%.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A perfect 5 of 5

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail


Vintage: 2005

Grand Cru: Musigny

100% Pinot Noir

Average Price: $1400

Tasting Notes: Considered by many to be the wine of the vintage (knowing how great the 2005 vintage was that's saying a lot) the 2005 Mugnier Musigny is the greatest wine I have tasted this year by far, and is a candidate for greatest of all time. I have a feeling that if I taste this wine in 20 years it may take the "best ever" slot. My notes are as follows: The nose releases pure and beautiful aromas of black raspberry and black cherry with a lovely rose pedal and crushed mineral aspect. Hints of fine vanilla and cinnamon complete a unified and seducing bouquet. The palate is stunning to say the least. There is so much power in this wine yet a wonderful elegance as well. Succulent and ripe yet firmly structured with a ridiculously long and complex finish I'm in heaven...pure heaven...

5 of 5 (Special occasion wine, sit down wine)

I would drink this at the earliest 2024, this wine will taste fantastic for 30+ years if cellared properly.