Former Tool Frontman Branches Out with Arizona Winery
By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight
From the critically acclaimed hard rock band Tool, commercially successful yet with a musically educated successful cult following, lead singer Maynard James Keenan has spent these past few years on a new passion, making wine. Being a food and wine writer and not a rock n roll journalist, I will at least say this: there are moments in a few Tool albums that are some of the best in rock n roll history, period. There is a level of musical genius, energy and beauty there that is rarely touched. Though their music is perhaps a bit heavy for the overall mainstream to fully embrace, Tool still maintains its status as an iconic rock n roll band.
Now, onto the wine. Maynard Keenan has spent years building Merkin vineyards, spending all of his time and money on making wines. A self-described intense and passionate person, Keenan has invested himself fully in this new venture, which he is pursuing with wine guru and partner Eric Glomski.
Keenan and Glomski’s extensive efforts to build a viable vineyard in the unlikely locale of Arizona’s Verde Valley are featured in the 2010 documentary Blood Into Wine. Fighting both harsh winters and local wildlife, which threaten to decimate Merkin’s grape vines, Keenan and Glomski persist and earn their pioneer status as winemakers in the region. The comedy, drama and deep introspection showcased in the film make it obvious that Maynard has poured his soul into these wines. From Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese, to Syrah and Bourdeaux, Merkin Vineyards is making a full array of wines available on the shelves. We will be reviewing the documentary in part 2 and the wine in part 3 of our piece on Caduceus Wines by Maynard James Keenan and Eric Glomski.
For only the second time in twenty years, wine has caught up to beer in popularity of U.S. drinkers. According to a recent Gallup Poll, wine grown in popularity and is only now 1% behind. This is extremely impressive considering the explosive popularity of craft beer over the last couple years. 36% of U.S. drinkers prefer beer, 35% prefer wine and 23% percent prefer liquor. We at Whiskey Goldmine love them all equally and are going to try and save the economy one drink at a time. Check out the overall breakdown below. This survey has a 4% margin of error.
Our featured wine this week is a red Sangiovese from the Tuscany region of Italy, one of our favorite styles. The Cesari Sangiovese DOC di Romagna Riserva is made with 100% of the Sangiovese grape and aged for 24 months in Slavonian and Italian oak barrels. This Sangiovese is ready to drink right out off of the shelf but has a 5-7 year aging potential. Winning a silver medal in Germany in 2007, the Cesari DOC Reserva is available for about $15-17. Tasting Notes: The Cesari DOC Riserva is a full bodied red, slightly dry and slightly tart. A thick and dark red, a bit tannic, this Sangiovese will pair well with meats and aged cheeses. This is a solid red wine and less expensive than most other Sangiovese reds.
Bigger Bubbles Indicate a Young, Peaking Champagne
By Matt Goldstein
For most Champagnes and sparkling wines, the aging process is already complete when the bottles leave the vineyard. The bottle of Champagne or Sparkling wine is actually at its peak when bought and slightly degrades in quality from there. For many, this means there is no need to age the bottle of champagne in your wine cellar or wine rack. There is no need to keep that special expensive bottle of Dom P or Crystal for that special occasion. The best time to drink your champagne is now. Stop playing games and just pour yourself a glass now.
In order to know how old you champagne is, the key is in the bubbles. The bigger the bubbles the younger the champagne; the smaller the bubbles, the older it is. The bigger bubbles are key to experiencing the best champagne or sparkling wines and drinking the champagne at the appropriate age. So open your bottles as soon as you can and enjoy life now. Life is short, and so is the shelf life of Champagne.
White Grenache is Not Everyday, but Worth the Wait
By Eric Duncan & Matt Goldstein
The Mont Tauch Winery is based in Tuchan located in the wine making region of Languedoc, Southern France. Rated an 88 by Wine Spectator, this white Grenache is available for just under $15. Tasting Notes of the Mont Tauch Grenache Blanc: A crisp light scent, thin light beige and light gold color, slight pear and slight fruit taste but not sweet. The Grenache Blanc is a thin crisp beautiful flavor and very refreshing in the summertime. The brilliance of this wine is the crisp finish subtly in the flavor. We would drink this wine again and again. It’s one of our favorites.
About the Mont Tauch Winery:
Set in the Languedoc’s dramatic landscape of picturesque hills and Cathar castles, Mont Tauch is one of France’s leading cooperatives, based in the heart of the Fitou appellation in the southern France.
Mont Tauch covers 1950 hectares made up of 7,000 small vineyards dotted around the villages of Tuchan, Paziols, Villeneuve and Durban. Each village is recognised for its specific terroir and for the character of its wines.
The charming beauty of the villages and the vineyards that surround them, delight the senses just like the outstanding quality of the wines. Mont Tauch produces a wide range of great AOC wines and Vin de Pays suitable for all occasions. The wines reflect this exceptional natural wealth of diversity and beauty in the Mediterranean landscape.
Named after the mountain, which towers above the cooperative’s state-of-the-art new winery, Mont Tauch is surrounded by wild garrigue – the Mediterranean terrain rich with the scent of thyme, rosemary, lavender and juniper.
Mont Tauch’s wines are a genuine expression of this terroir, which has been shared for centuries by the vignerons and the many wild boar that roam the hills of Fitou, gorging themselves on the grapes and gnawing at the vine shoots. Indeed, the wild boar is used as the Mont Tauch logo. It is not surprising that boar hunting, along with rugby, is one of the region’s most passionately pursued sports; and nothing washes down a wild boar casserole or saucisson better than a satisfying glass of Mont Tauch Fitou.
The Kenwood winery has shared some grilling secrets with some beautiful food and wine pairings. From grilled steaks with a cabernet sauvignon, to lamb chops with a smoky syrah, to sausages and peppers with zinfandels and shellfish with a chardonnay, below are some great grilling tips and an introduction to wine for any wine and food lover.
SONOMA VALLEY, California /PRNewswire/ – Summertime…and the grilling is easy. The long, warm days of summer are reason enough to fire up the grill – or barbecue – and enjoy some of the tastiest food on the planet with family and friends. Serving a good wine with fare hot off the grill turns dinner into a feast to be savored and making a good wine match is easy if you know how.
Making that good wine match begins with knowing the food to be grilled. While grilling imparts smoky, caramelized flavors, it is – with a few major exceptions – the food’s intrinsic character that suggests good wine choices. As with most wine and food matches, the key is to select a wine that both complements the flavor and approximates the flavor intensity of the food.
For example, grilled steaks offer rich, hearty, mouthfilling flavor that pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, which offer similar richness, heartiness and depth; Kenwood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley of the Moon Sonoma County Syrah and – for more smoothness and complexity – Valley of the Moon Cuvee de La Luna Red Wine are all terrific matches.
Grilled lamb chops also have rich flavor, but with some “gaminess” and perceptible fat. Here a bold, bright, smoky Syrah or Sangiovese delivers compatible flavors and cleans the palate; Valley of the Moon Sonoma County Syrah (again, but a good match is a good match) and Valley of the Moon Sangiovese are fine choices.
Grilled sausages pair well with Zinfandels that combine generous fruit and spice – candidates to consider include Lake Sonoma Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Zinfandel and Kenwood Sonoma County Zinfandel. They also pair well with Pinot Gris, and Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Gris is sure to please those who prefer a white wine.
Pork chops hot off the grill display medium-bodied flavors that show their best with a red or white of similar elegance; a smooth Merlot like Kenwood Sonoma County Merlot is a delicious complement, as is a lush Chardonnay like Valley of the Moon Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
When fish and shellfish – both with subtle flavors that gain richness over an open flame – are on the grill, the most compatible wine choices understandably are white wines. A flavorful Chardonnay, especially ones that have been fermented and aged in oak barrels, like Kenwood Vineyards Sonoma County Chardonnay and Lake Sonoma Russian River Valley Chardonnay, really shines with seafood. Perhaps the only exception to this “grilled seafood and Chardonnay” pairing is grilled salmon because salmon’s richness demands a wine that can match it. While Chardonnay works, a graceful Pinot Noir – such as Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir or Valley of the Moon Carneros Pinot Noir – really accents the flavorful salmon.
Grilled chicken likewise has an affinity for white wines, but here the chicken’s seasoning comes into play when choosing a wine to pair with it. The herbs and spices common in grilled chicken rubs and marinades make Sauvignon Blanc – with bright, herb-laced character – the perfect wine to serve. Kenwood Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc is a popular option. Sauvignon Blanc also works well with grilled vegetables and for the same reason; its character complements the herbs and spices used in their preparation.
As noted, there are exceptions to using the food to be grilled as the basis for your wine choice. The first exception is barbecue. Barbecue sauces – due to their spicy, tangy and often sweet flavors – often dominate the food being grilled. For barbecued chicken, ribs and pork, a fruit-driven white, dry rose or red wine are the best choices to complement those powerful flavors; wines to consider include Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc, Valley of the Moon Unoaked Chardonnay and Kenwood Vintage White Wine among the whites, Valley of the Moon Rosato di Sangiovese among the roses, and Valley of the Moon Barbera and Valley of the Moon Zinfandel among the reds.
The other exceptions are hamburgers and hotdogs. Hamburgers and hotdogs are summer grill staples, but here the toppings – everything from mustard and ketchup to sauerkraut and relish – hold sway; a flavorful, uncomplicated Zinfandel such as Lake Sonoma Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel or Kenwood Sonoma County Zinfandel is a fine match.
Last but not least, if all these potential choices seem too much, or if there are lots of different foods on the grill, simply go with the most versatile wines out there – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Kenwood Vineyards and Valley of the Moon Winery make good ones and if you serve one of each variety, everyone will find a wine they can enjoy throughout summer grilling season.
In my mid twenties, I traveled throughout the east Mediterranean coast of Spain and spent a lot of time in the coastal towns of Valencia. There were many things about the cuisine and wines that were amazing, but one thing that stood was being introduced to Sangria for the first time.
Sangria, which is derived from the Latin word meaning the “color of blood,” has been around for centuries. You can make it with red or white wine if you please, and the beauty of Sangria is that you can fiddle around with it to make it to your particular taste. I was very impressed that almost every joint I went to in Spain had some variation of it, and in many cases on tap!
As you can imagine, my wife and I stumbled throughout the streets and alleys of Valencia with a slight dusting of inebriation. We came across a small Bodega in an alley off the beaten path that was clear that only locals frequented. “Jackpot!” I thought to myself. The shop owners were an old Spanish couple that were very proud of their wine that they had stored in Cedar barrels stacked high to the ceiling. My wife who happens to be part Spanish only speaks “American”, so my German-Irish pale face had to do all the talking. (Thanks high school Spanish!)
Fifteen minutes and 6 samples later, I had purchased 2 liters of some fine Spanish Tinto Rioja wine. But more importantly, I was able to get some tips on how to make some old world Sangria from the old Bodega owners. I took the wine and knowledge back to New York where I was living at the time and put it to work.
I give you, “Goldmine Sangria”
1 bottle of a Spanish red wine
1/2 cup of Orange Juice
1 cup of sugar
1 “Golden” delicious apple cut into thin slices
2 lemons cut into thin slices
1 pear cut into thin slices
3 ounces of “Crystal Skull” Vodka
2 ounces of Tanqueray Gin
1 ounce of B&B (Brandy & Benedictine)
1/2 ounce of triple sec
“Splash” of Tonic Water
Simply combine all of the ingredients except for the Tonic Water into a pitcher and allow to sit overnight. When you are ready to serve, top off your mixture with a healthy amount of the Tonic water to give it a little fizzzzz….. and serve.
The More Srtuggle in the Grape, the Better the Wine
By Tim Rodgers
Counter-intuitively, a vineyard that’s experienced ideal plant growing conditions; such as sunshine, plenty of water, fertile soil, and a high yield of grapes will only produce an average wine. High crop yields attenuate the intensity of the flavor of the grapes. Conversely, vines under stress for whatever reason, that yield smaller crops struggling to grow, produce grapes with more concentrated flavors.
However, each grape has its own ideal crop yield. It depends on the variety and the location of the vineyard. Today, many vineyards attempt to emulate some classic vintages and regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux in France. Ultimately, growers have much control of the soil quality, the irrigation system, pruning, and other constants, but it is the variable of the weather that determines vintages.
Whether it’s a cool spring, rain or hail, during flowering, a hot summer, or a rainy harvest, all could have a negative impact on the grape. Ideally, when the grapes are harvested the weather should be dry. Damp weather could cause mold and lowers sugar levels in the grapes. If the weather is too hot, it could cause the grapes to produce too much sugar causing a loss in acidity in the grapes. Nonetheless, most winemakers agree that choosing when to harvest the grapes is the most critical decision.
The bottom line for vintages is that the quality of the vintages determines how long a wine can be aged. Wines from the best vintages have the best aging potential, and wines from poorer vintages have less aging potential. Poorer vintages can still develop character and style over a shorter amount of time, and could possibly represent a better value. Vintages 101.
For those celebrating Passover this week, we’ve compiled a list of great kosher wines. No, this isn’t a compilation of the best Manischewitz available. The great kosher wine list is a compilation of critically acclaimed wines from all over the world. So just sit back, sip some matzah ball soup, enjoy your family, and have a great kosher wine with Passover dinner. Don’t forget to leave a glass out for the Prophet Elijah. After all, if you were Elijah, you’d want a glass of wine too. I know I would. The following are in no particular order.
1. Bartenura Moscato Rose sparkling wine. Italy.
2. Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Sherry blend. Spain.
3. Goose Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand.
4. Flechas de Los Andes Gran Malbec. Argentina.
5. Segal’s Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve. Israel.
6. Herzog Late Harvest Clarksburg Chenin Blanc. California.
Tasting Wine for Beginners: The Look, the Swirl, the Scent and the Taste
By Tim Rodgers
Many of us know that we enjoy a glass of wine. The complicated part is that many of us don’t know why we enjoy this particular brand & style over others. “This wine is a little too sweet, this wine taste too much like pepper, this wine tastes a little like vinegar…” Believe it or not, to fully appreciate the wine you are drinking, there is a method to the madness of actually tasting a particular wine.
It helps to pour your wine into a very clear glass so that the color and clarity of the wine can be appreciated but also a glass big enough that you can swirl the wine around to release the aromas. Releasing the aromas helps enhance the wine tasting experience. Essentially, there are four basic components to wine tasting.
First is the look. After all, we all initially eat and drink with our eyes, so the look of the wine is very important. Holding your glass by the stem (as not to get smudges, fingerprints, or spinach & artichoke dip on the glass) put it up against a white background with a good amount of natural light. In red wines, the color should be brilliant and clear. White wines should appear limpid and bright. Older wines should have a less intense color than newer wines, and wines made in cooler regions would have less vivid colors than those made in warmer regions. Basically, any cloudiness or discoloration in your wine indicates some sort of defect in the wine making process.
Second is the swirl. Does this make you look pretentious and snobby? Yes, but swirling the wine around in your glass helps introduce oxygen into the wine which releases key aromas. With a fairly newer wine, you should swirl it a little more vigorously as opposed to an older wine that should be swirled with a little more care.
Next is the smell. Don’t be afraid. Stick your schnoz deep into the glass. This is where you can allow your imagination run wild. Take deep whiffs of the wine a couple of times if you have to. Your sense of smell is greater than your sense of taste. The olfactory memory is one of the strongest memories we have and plays in important role in your own perception of the wine. Wine experts of course have a list of specific terms and vocabulary for wine tastes, but WhiskeyGoldmine does not play by anybody’s rules, so go wild. If you think you smell hints of bubble gum, then roll with it baby and tell the chino and sweater vest wearing yuppies Muffy and Biff that there is some bubble gum in their wine. It happens.
Finally, is the taste. Take a swig of wine and fill your mouth about half way. Swish the wine around in your mouth. (don’t gargle) By doing so, you are releasing yet more aromas and finally tasting the wine. This process is also known as chewing. Next you can either spit out the wine or swallow. I think if you are an avid reader of WhiskeyGoldmine, you know we stand on this issue.
Pay attention to how the wine tastes as you drink it. Is there an aftertaste? Does it linger? If the aftertaste is too hot, then the alcohol content is probably too high or it is out of balance. How is the mouth feel? Is it refreshing and light? Dry and bitter? All of these tastes have their own importance and there is a reason to enjoy it all. Like all things in life, a good wine is about harmony and balance. The wine should be full with flavor with a nice balance of all of the elements of fruit, tannin, and acid.