Musings on Wine and Spirits by Louis Marmon

As seen in:
Washington Post, Gazette Newspapers, DC Examiner, The Wine Report
Washington Jewish Week, LA Times, Jewish Exponent, Capitol File Magazine and in other cities in the US and Canada

Latest Article

Cork It

October 30, 2012

Five Stones

A review of the Five Stones Shiraz 2010 and the SMWS # 23.72 Bruichladdich Single Malt Scotch.

One of the most beloved rituals in the world of wine snobbery is the extraction of the cork. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, or Quercus Suber that grows in Spain and Portugal. The use of cork as a closure for wine bottles began in ancient times (in Egypt and some parts of Asia, and then also in Greece and Rome), but it was very far from the closure of choice. The success of cork as a closure depends upon its tightly fitting into an opening with a relatively uniform diameter. So it was not until glass bottles were being made with more or less uniform openings, in the 17th century, that cork truly became the closure of choice.

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Chasidic Bootlegging

October 29, 2012

Four Roses Small Batch Limted Edition

A review of the Ramot Naftaly Barbera 2007 and the Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon for 2012.

A few years ago a 300-family Montreal chasidic congregation paid a $20,000 fine to the Quebec civil authorities. Its offense? Supplying their community with kosher wines.
This chasidic shul, Congregation Toldos Yakov Yosef Skver, was raided in 2009 by the organized-crime unit of the Quebec Police Department. Le Fuzz confiscated nearly 900 liters of kosher wines and spirits including banana liquor and peach schnapps. Several members of the shul and the congregation itself were charged with importing and distributing kosher wines that had not been obtained through the province’s alcohol regulatory commission, Societe des Alcools de Quebec (SAQ).

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Second Label Doesn’t Mean Second Rate

October 7, 2012

Tio Pepe Fino Sherry

A review of Yatir Red Wine 2007 and Tio Pepe Fino Sherry.

A great many wineries produce what is called a “second wine” or, more commonly these days, a “second label” in order to make use of grapes not selected for blending into their “first label” wine. This practice enables producers to be more selective in creating their “first label” wine without having to sacrifice quality for profit by devaluing their brand just to make use of excess grapes. This practice also allows them to diversify a little across price-points, and generate a second revenue stream – often to support greater investment in their “first label.” Selling wine at $100 a bottle is great, but if you also have quality wine to sale at $25 a bottle, you will likely sell more wine across both price points. This allows producers to harness their brand name and distribution network to make the most of their quality juice.

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