It All Depends Upon The Grapes – And The Winemaker’s Skill

May 7, 2013

Review of the Soreka Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and two single cask Kilchoman Single Malt Scotch Whiskies.

One question we are periodically asked is, “How do they get all those flavors into the wine?” The thought presumably being that the winemaker is somehow like a chef, creating finished dishes from a variety of ingredients besides just the primary one – that somehow winemakers add additional elements into their fermentation vats, perhaps throwing in some black cherries and pepper into the Syrah, or mixing some gooseberries into their Sauvignon Blanc. Wine critics shoulder a fair amount of blame for this, since many of the “official” wine descriptors regularly invoked suggest a veritable pantry of ingredients. But the truth is that there are very few additives permitted in wine. What we taste is nearly entirely dependent upon the grape itself and the skill of the winemaker.

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It’s Almost Summer – Daiquiri Season

May 2, 2013

A review of the Yatir Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and a look at the Daiquiri.

Sauvignon Blanc is one of our favorite warm weather wines. It is produced around the winemaking world in a number of different styles ranging from dry to very sweet dessert wines. The bright flavors and balanced acidity typical of well made dry, nonsweet versions of Sauvignon Blancs pair well with lighter summer fare, including cheeses, salads and even sushi; it makes for delightful backyard deck or picnic sipping.

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Vicchiomaggio – A Destination For Wine Lovers

April 25, 2013

A review of the wonderful wines from Tuscany’s Castello Vicchiomaggio.

There are few places in the world more picturesque than the Tuscany hills, especially when viewed from Castello di Vicchiomaggio while sipping some of their excellent wines. Located on a commanding summit just north of Greve in Chianti, the site’s first castle was constructed in the 5th century by settlers who named the place Vicchio dei Longobardi. During the Renaissance the name was changed to its current “Village of May” and it was once visited by Leonardo Da Vinci while he was painting the Mona Lisa.

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Spluring On Fortified Wines

April 18, 2013

A review of the Zion Miharmartif Port-style kosher wine and several Port-finished Whiskies.

While we love a bargain wine, every so often it is fun to splurge, especially when the bottle remains drinkable for a long time after the cork has been pulled. This is the domain of the fortified wine, that middle ground between wine and spirit. Some fortified wines, such as Port and Madeira, can provide pleasure for weeks after opening while others retain their flavors only if kept refrigerated. These wines are typically costly to produce and available in limited quantities, hence the generally higher price tag.

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Introducing The “Cab Franc”

April 15, 2013

Reviews of the Alexander Reserve Cabernet Franc 2009 and several Tomintoul Single Malt whiskies.

Cabernet franc is one of the lesser-known grape varietals. Aromatic and with a softer feel than its better-known progeny cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc is usually added to enhance aromas and mellow a wine’s structure without sacrificing its ability to age. Cabernet franc, or “cab franc” as it is often called for short, even plays a prominent role in several of the most exalted Bordeaux wines. Cab franc can be excellent on its own, or as the primary or dominant constituent to a blend, and the resulting wines can range from rustic and austere to rich and balanced.

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Petite Sirah A Somewhat Undiscovered Gem

April 10, 2013

Reviews of several Petite Sirah wines from California.

Petite Sirah has seen dramatic changes since our last look at this underappreciated varietal several years ago. Its classic dark berry and cherry flavors accented with mild peppery spiciness make it easy to praise as an ideal wine for grilled foods and hearty winter fare. But for many years Petite Sirah was either relegated to a blending role or, if bottled solo, required at least an hour of aeration before consuming to allow the wine to become enjoyable.

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Tulip Winery: Good Wine and Good Works, As Well

March 28, 2013

A review of the Tulip Syrah Reserve 2010 and several recommendations for Passover libations.

All Jewish holidays, outside of fast days, entail big, festive meals. Passover is, in many respects, the ultimate example of this, despite having a more restricted diet. Not only must we eat matzah and maror at the seder meals, but we must eat matzah and refrain from all chametz (leavened grain products) throughout the holiday. Further, not only must each of us consume four cups of wine at each seder, which, depending on the number of guests, can make for a lot of bottles, but we are encouraged to keep the wine flowing as an expression of our freedom and joy. Besides, with our adult beverage options severely limited by type, with all grained-based spirits and beer unequivocally off limits, the importance of having enough wine on hand takes on yet another level of importance. So drink up (in moderation, of course).

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What To Drink With Your Brisket

March 21, 2013

A review of the Dalton Zinfandel 2010 and some suggestions for Passover libations.

Though the Passover seder has firmly established millennia old rules, rituals and traditions – the very word “seder” means “order” or “arrangement” – after all, the Jewish way is to conduct the night’s proceedings with highly personalized, family specific, customs and practices. This is especially true for the menu, which may run the gamut from cherished family recipes, to the latest cookbook concoctions, to professional catering, to potluck. Invariably one of the most traditional foods – at least among Ashkenazi Jews, is beef brisket. This, alone, seems subject to countless variations.

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Blame The French

March 17, 2013

A review of the Barkan “Reichan” Assemblage Galil 2010 and Tullamore Dew Blended Irish Whiskey.

One of the facets of wine culture that has contributed mightily to its more negative reputation for effete, snobby, high-brow insularity is the wine world’s propensity for invoking foreign words and phrases. If a culprit must be found, blame France. For, like it or not, the one nation most associated with wine is France. French wine continues to dominate the fine wine market and remains the benchmark for quality. Hence we have the French words, phrases, concepts and poses endemic to wine including such terms as bouquet, brut, cuvee and domaine. Another is “assemblage,” or the “art of blending.” It is also the name of a line of high-end blended wines from Israel’s Barkan Winery.

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