Tag Archives: booze hags

What’s in a Vintage?

vintage 2
As per usual,  I’m just going to start this by taking a dig at wine snobs.

Ever so often at the wine store I work at someone (picture the stereotype – white, middle aged, male, $$$) will be hunting out their case for the week (usually French) pick up a wine, proclaim ‘Oh that was a glorious vintage!” then go ahead and dash out a few $100’s for ‘The Vintage” – never asking if anyone has tried it, anything about the producer or region, nor to see the tasting notes, just, BAM. It’s all good, as usually they’re hitting up the kind of dollars that it’s ensured to taste like liquid gold. But there’s this huge wine snobbery etiquette that somehow seems to interchange the words ‘good wine’ for ‘great vintage’ without thinking about what vintage means in the whole scheme of things.

So lets dissect this ‘Vintage’ , of course in a way that is totally fabulous with less snobbery and more metaphors.

Basically ‘Vintage’ is the year you see on the label, and is the summer that the grapes were harvested. Usually you wont see the wine on the shelves for quite some time as the winemakers are fermenting, blending, ageing and doing all kinds of crazy magic to it. Or the wine could be released just few months after vintage, if the grapes were super ripe, picked nice and early and the style doesn’t require much intervention or ageing (here’s to looking at you, Sauv).

There are so many factors that can make or break a vintage – tiny factors in climate, weather patterns and geography that could come together  to make your wine super fabulous, or have you hitting up that spittoon. Pretty basically, most grapes adore the summer sun as much as we do, and hitting things back to home, New Zealands 2013 summer was insane – as was the vintage. It’s been proclaimed the best decades by wineries, writers, soms and France.

The ideal summer day spent bikini clad, lazing in the sun, building up a tan and sipping on Mojitos, equates to grapes sitting in the sun, getting crazy ripe as they convert acids to sugars and building up some sick fruity flavour and absorbing enough water to keep it all going (but not too much – they don’t want to bloat). And in the same way that rain could totally ruin your week, rain before harvest could cause a grape to bloat, split and rot – which does not translate will once its in your glass, gross.

Of course there’s a gazillion variations on a gazillion things that could give you happy or sad grapes – If only it were so black and white. Like my little babies that they are, wine grapes are all special in their own ways (Slash bloody difficult), where your plump, baked Shiraz’s are total heat fiends, Sauvignon Blanc thrives off cooler nights to give it that herbaceous bite, whereas a bit of rain and rot is the perfect thing for sweet Riesling and some of the most expensive wine in the world is make from grapes picked frozen off the vine, buzzy stuff.

So thats a little bit of Vintage 101, and as per its use in wine snobbery, all I can say is the vintage does not make the wine – your vintner is currently adapting and developing his vines, methodology and technology to predict and enhance and repair whatever mother nature throws at him – and sometimes what he does is a risk, then you’ve got the winemaker who holds so many keys to conjuring up the next drop, and countless options with each, then lastly theres you – the humble consumer – what do you buy? how long do you cellar it for? or how long can you hold out from cracking it open? what should you drink it with? at what temperature? What glass should you use? (it makes a difference, I promise) so many dilemmas!

Of course those are some questions to ponder for another time. For now just bask in the glory of a stunning summer gone past, and get oh so excited about the 2013 goodies that’ll be rolling out over the next few years.



Filed under Wine, Wine Life

Wine Etiquette: As Told By Andre 3000

Andree 3000

Leave your wine an hour, It will open up, fruit notes become more fragrant, secondary notes both expose themselves and soften pleasently to the palate.

Leave your wine a day, and primary notes and tannins have softened, oxidation has taken effect, be it adding sherry or raisin like complexity.

Leave your wine three days, the fruit has gone, aromas oxidised to the point of ‘stale’ and you’re well on your way to having an overpriced bottle of vinegar.

Boys and girls, just listen to Andre.

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Grapes of Gatsby

Last night signalled the end of like a three hundred year hype for The Great Gatsby. Carpet rolled, suits donned and popping bottles. I’m not one to wank on about ‘life of the rich and famous’, but The Great Gatsby is a work like no other, and F. Scott Fitzgerald is probably history’s most successful alcoholic, so I feel like an event like this deserves the E! style coverage I’ve got going on about now. but before I dig into the bubbles any further, let us first all appreciate this….


One picture instantly validates it as the best party in the world.

Fitzgerald and booze are no strangers, and the drink followed him closely during his short existence, in his 20s introducing himself as “F. Scott Fitzgerald, the well-known alcoholic”, writing the compilation On Booze and living the Champagne drenched lifestyle of his social status.

So it was no surprise to find the premier both lavish and booze fuelled like the 1920s of my dreams. But champagne? not the nights superstar. Instead the toxin of choice came in the form of Ferrari Metodo Classico, a Methode Traditionelle from Alto Adige, Northern Italy. Made 100% from the Chardonnay grape (one of the three main components in Champagne), lemon, apple and floral notes are light and crisp, and notes of yeast delicate, its restrained compared to the bakery of champagne, and I’m literally salivating.

Ferrari is the it  tipple for the more cultured – think the Venice film festival and Prada. Thank the lord. Its probably the most refreshing thing not to see such Hollywood acts of poppin’ bottles of Moët & Chandon and throwing their money around. A new, and not inferior, bubble is nice, as is the price tag (you can get the Ferrari Metodo NV for $30). yes. please. 

Baz, I raise a glass to you.


A Touch of Italy distributes Ferrari Metodo Brut NV, find it here

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Today was my first introduction to Sherry and Port, drinks I never thought I’d touch until I was on microwave meals and needed something to get me through my knitting. Sherry, in my eyes, is a tipple in the arena of grandmas.
Old and adopted by the English fortified wine may be, but it has balls bigger than what you need to watch Coro, fortified wine = added spirits (juices from the Marc varietal), added spirits= more alcohol, plus with up to 100 years to go crazy with flavor and complexity, she sure packs quite a punch.

Jerez de la Frontera in the South of Spain is the ‘spiritual home’ of Sherry, and the common association of British origins comes from a long winded history of traders finding new markets to buy and sell alcohol throughout Europe, once french regained rule of Bordeaux in 1453. Now over 500 years later, wine making estates in Douro, Portugal, the home of Port, is sweet wee England’s home away from home, boarding at Eton, club sammies, the whole shabam #historylesson.

The tasting was not unlike many a childhood Halloween when I came to the last of my goods, to be faced with the task of finishing the ‘bad’ candy (as fast as possible, naturally), sickly sweet and syrupy would do the experience as a whole very nicely, but thankfully it had its merits.

Three Sherries, one region, a whole lotta booze.

The Manzanilla was up first, a style characterised by its ageing of the Palomino grape, with the solera process feat yeast. Yes yeast, not even removed, just stirred through and renamed flor, cause foreign is sexy, duh. Funnily enough, bread was the first thing to waft up the nostrils and take over the mouth, with citrus, savory and almond notes to go, I’ll go ahead and call it an acquired taste.

Next up was the booze hag of the bunch, Amontillado (up to 20% abv), the above plus spirits, killing off the yeast and bringing out raisins, almonds, walnuts, butterscotch and caramel aromas, which all in all, smelt like Christmas cake, Booze Hag edition. It tasted a lot more refined, nutty and savory, with dryness and acidity that lifted the wine from what could have been a syrupy disaster, the Amontillado was complex and interesting, plus 100% drinkable (bonus).

Pedro Ximenes (PX) was, through trial and tribulation, the pick of the bunch, black intense fruits and super sweet, taste number one was only encouraged by a sniff the slightest sniff of coffee within the madness. But fkya nose, the palate didn’t follow through, instead engulfing my mouth in a maple syrup drenched prune syrup. That said, it was nice, but enthusiasm and gulping cannot be trusted -back to the Halloween antidote- too much candy is a RL issue.

Whoever has been told that eating more chocolate wont make their problems go away can cheer for joy for PX, a mouth full of bitter chocolate (!!) and a secondary, more cautious, taste opened up my first mind blowing (I know, I know) experience of food matching. The syrup spun to velvet, prunes thrown to the curb and toffee down the drain, a bitter bite brought out velvety coconut, walnut and cherries, no more words can be said other than heaven

(and pour it over vanilla ice cream, I’m gaining faith in labels)

All wines produced by Lustau, Jenez, Spain.

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