Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vive Le Champagne

Despite the increased supply of Champagne due to the 2011 bumper harvest and slowing demand in Europe, producers are still increasing prices.  Why?  As mentioned in my last post, the 2012 crop was much lower than expected which gave producers the excuse they needed to take up prices.  Given the rising cost of all raw materials from sugar to cotton to livestock, it was only a matter of time and I'm all for Champagne producers making a fair wage for delivering such a delightful product.  That said, I'm counting on some nice post New Year's deals.  I guess you can say I'm wearing my Rosė colored glasses.

For the full article, check out today's Wall Street Journal:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324020804578146764175243812.html?KEYWORDS=wine


Alli M.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Silver Lining of a Slump

As you may have seen from the Associated Press, Europe is having their worst wine harvest in recent history.  The farmer's union expects France's grape harvest to slump by 20% and Italy's grape harvest to slump by 7%. 

My first reaction was, "I must go out and stockpile all of the grower's champagne I can afford/get my hands on to be able to celebrate the next several New Year's."  And then I took a breath, calmed down and realized that as hard as it is to hear this news, a down crop always means that the surviving fruit tends to be more concentrated and usually more complex.  Talented wine makers will be able to create something amazing out of this low yield.

So I'm holding out hope that despite the tragic loss of yield, French and Italian wines from the 2012 vintage will turn out to be wines that we celebrate and drink for decades.

Until the next time,


Alli M.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wonderful Willamette

I'm out in McMinnville, OR for the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, or IPNC. I only signed up for one of the official events - the tasting "walkabout" which takes place tomorrow. But I've managed to stay pretty busy with visits to several wineries. Rather than breakdown all 15 wineries I've visited since Thursday, I'll give you the highlights of who you need to look for and ask for at your local wine store:

Montinore - They make a lot of widely available Pinot Noir. Moreover, they have some of the most budget friendly among good Oregon Pinot Noir. Their entry level "red label" can be found in many places and will cost somewhere in the low $20s. It's a classic light bodied Oregon pinot filled with bright cherry notes. They also make a lovely port that is only available at the vineyard. So visit The Willamette Valley already!!

Anne Amie - Been meaning to visit for years and finally made it there this trip. One of the few making a white Pinot Noir. I know there are many that consider this a gimmick, but if so, it's one I happen to like a lot. Imagine a white wine with a thicker body red berry notes on the nose and palate. Interesting, no? They also make a very pretty and unique late harvest Muller-Thurgau.

Winderlea - Cool space, beautiful views and excellent Chardonnay. I am particularly fond of their 2009 Chardonnay which should cost around $25-$30 at retail. Clean, bright, green apple palate with some candied notes and a hint of spice due to the neutral oak. Better than most subpar, over oaked and overdone CA Chardonnay.

Le Cadeau - I could write several postings just about Le Cadeau. Best views I've seen in The Willamette Valley. And the best thing about them - they have a great deal of distribution in the Northeast. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a few of their 2010 Pinots were my favorites - the 2010 Diversite and the 2010 Equinoxe.

Walter Scott Wines - I cannot say enough good things about this new winery. The founders, Ken and Erica, are as warm and friendly as they are talented. I genuinely enjoy everything they make. Based on the barrels we tasted today, I am waiting with baited breath for their spring bottling. In the meantime, I'll have to bide my time with their Holstein Pinot Noir as well as the Dumb Ox and Combe Vert Pinots I picked up previously that have since sold out. Dumb Ox is one of my absolute favorite Pinot Noirs. The acid, alcohol and tannins are in perfect balance and the palate is a cornucopia of berries, earth, spice and meat. Moreover, I need to give Ken credit for turning me onto Oregon Chardonnay. I was never a big Chard fan, but neutral-oaked Oregon Chardonnay has become a new favorite of mine. I think we're going to be seeing more and more good Chardonnay coming out of Oregon - especially if Ken and Erica accomplish everything I think they will.

I've been looking forward to this trip for months because The Willamette Valley is one of my favorite travel destinations. I love the wine and the landscape, but above all I love the sense of community out here. It seems as though all the winemakers know, as well as, respect one another. I have never experienced this much admiration amongst winemakers (and chefs and waiters) in any other region I've visited.

I sincerely hope this region never becomes what Napa has become, but in case it does, get out here soon. And by soon, I mean now! Oregon is just as lovely in August and September....

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just a Typical Trip to the Wine Store...

'Twas a dark and stormy Saturday night when my friend, Sharon, and I visited a local wine store, Shopper's Vineyard, in pursuit of a bottle of Schild Shiraz.* I've introduced several people to Schild because it is a juicy, berry filled, medium bodied crowd pleaser. It pairs with a lot of foods and unlike a lot of Asutralian Shiraz, it is not unbalanced due to a high degree of alcohol. 

Having picked up the Schild, we were browsing the rest of the store when the manager, Steve, came by to see if we needed help. Sharon remarked that I was "in the zone" and this sparked a conversation between the manager and me. Turned out that Steve was the wine buyer for the store and he had a diploma from the WSET, the organization I received a certificate from. After a lot of intense discussion, Steve recommended a few Italian wines for me: Statti Mantonico 2009 from the Calabria Region and Ceppaiano Tenuta Di Ceppaiano 2009 from Tuscany. 

Mantonico is a white varietal I'd never heard of and Ceppaiano is a label I'd never had, but Steve clearly knew what he was talking about.  Plus, I always love learning about new varietals so I was excited to try to Mantonico.  As advertised, both wines were great.  The Mantonico was light, refreshing and elegant.  It had some lush notes of honeysuckle and peach, but it was not overly fruity or sweet.  On the other hand, the Ceppaiano Tenuta from Tuscany was big, bold and rich with notes of cooked fruit and smoke.  And at $15, a lot cheaper than most Super Tuscans.

One of my favorite things about wine is there is so much choice and always something new to learn.  Classes and tastings are a wonderful way to learn, but a helpful manager or wine buyer can be just as educational.  Explore new stores or ask new questions at your current stores.  If you end up taking home a Mantico, it will be well worth it. 

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

*One final note:  Schild Shiraz 2008 has since become controversial because Schild produced an additional 5,000 cases of 2008 after they received a Top 10 Wine Spectator ranking (an illegal practice in some wine producing regions).  However, I believe the wine holds up - especially for $18 a bottle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Daily Meal Article: The Best Wines You Can't Have YET

I saw this article in today's Daily Meal and it was a quick, good read with some good suggestions so I wanted to share.  I can't wait to buy some of these (and by some, I mean the ones in my price range, which is a lot humbler than most First Growth Bordeaux):

"Every April, Bordeaux throws a blowout party for the wine trade and media called "primeurs," a big barrel tasting of their new wines from the previous vintage barely seven months after the grapes were picked. But you can’t buy them then because no one knows yet how much they will cost, plus they won’t be bottled for another year or two.

I traveled to Bordeaux last week to taste some of the first growths, aka primeur crus, including châteaux Rothschilds (Lafite and Mouton), Margaux, and Haut-Brion (generally costing hundreds of dollars per bottles), as well as the petite bordeaux that most of us can afford. The red wines are tannic, murky, and powerful — you can easily spot a fellow primeurs taster because our teeth are stained purple and we look like vampires trying to avoid the garlic.

In the next few weeks, the top growths will decide how many hundreds of dollars their wines will cost, while the lesser growths struggle in the $15 to $100 range. And while the 2011 vintage turned out to be quite good in spite of bad weather, it is not up to the levels of 2009 and 2010 — so there probably will be a price drop.

If you have a very good memory, or if you want to bookmark this posting, here are some of the top 2011 wines from the 130-plus tasted in case you want to buy them when you find out their prices and when your wine merchants have them to offer to you.

Best first-growth wine: Château Margaux
An almost-perfect wine in an imperfect vintage. Lovely purple fruits bolstered by large amounts of tannins that are virtually unnoticed at first sip. Great fruit-acid balance. Long on the palate, almost drinkable now put will last for many decades. (Château Ausone came in at a close second.)

Most distinctive wine: Château Le Pin
This former garagiste winery has moved into a small new winery that is as elegant in design as is the wine — lots of dark cherry fruit with that distinctive brûlée, earthy finish for which Le Pin is known. Very few cases are made, so you may not be able to buy it, even if you can afford it.

Best affordable premium Right Bank wine: Château Corbin
Loads of good fruit. Elegant, yet powerful wine with good structure and more tannins than this favorite estate normally displays.

Best affordable premium Left Bank wine: Château Lynch-Bages
A sentimental favorite, but a solid one as well. Dark and rich fruits with lots of essence, supple, yet muscular. Long finish. It’s somewhat low in alcohol — about 13.4 percent — which should appeal to traditionalists.

Best everyday wine: Château Clarke
Substantial and sophisticated with good structure and long-lasting raspberry flavors.

Best new/old winery: Château Quintus
The folks who own the spectacular Château Haut Brion on the Left Bank decided to buy Château Tertre-Dugay on the Right Bank last June because it had a lot of promise if no curb appeal. They re-named it Château Quintus and made a quick turnaround by offering a wine for primeurs. I liked the second-tier wine,Le Dragon de Quintus, better than the estate wine — floral nose with lots of black raspberry fruit on the palate, yet firm and full-bodied."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

You Can Find Good, Restrained Chardonnay from the West Coast

Happy (almost) St. Patrick's Day!  Though I usually post a picture of the labels I'm talking about so you can find them in the store, I found this picture online earlier and felt it was apropos, not to mention much more fun!

Perhaps it's because they picked Evening Land, one of my favorite Oregon producers, number 2, but I felt compelled to share this article from the New York Times:

Oregon Chardonnay Speaks Up

For half the price of the Evening Land the New York Times tasted, Evening Land makes a Mad Hatter Chardonnay that is fantastic  I'm not a big Chardonnay fan and I love this wine.

I can also vouch for the Lemelson and the King Estate the Times wrote about.  Both good choices and $15 for a bottle of the King Estate is a crazy, good value.  Try paying that little for a California Chardonnay that is half as good!

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend and don't forget that green food coloring does o.k. in a good glass of white wine.....

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or interesting article,


Alli M.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Little Side Tasting

Happy Friday! I am currently out in Anaheim, CA at the annual Expo West Natural and Organic trade show. Earlier tonight I had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting of several organic and biodynamic as well as vegan producers. It's a tough job, but someone has to taste all these wines and since I'm out here already, I figured it was worth the "sacrifice" to taste what is out there.

There were wines from all over the place, though it seems as though Mendocino in California has a large concentration of organic and even vegan producers.

As it turned out, my favortes from the evening were from all over the place and better yet, every one should be $20 or less at shelf:

Symphony Dornfelder, Germany - This is the second really good red wine I've had from this part of the world in the past several weeks. Maybe Austrian and German reds are coming into their own? Either way, this wine was light, full of cherry notes with sme nice minerality and acid.

Perlage Altana Rosata del Veneto Frizzante, Italy - Sparkling rose out of Northern Italy made from Cabernet Sauvignn. Delightful and fun, but with some darker berry and currant notes and a ice, long finish. It's rare to find a rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon, let alone a sparkling wine because these grapes are often preserved for more "serious" wine. This wine was seriously good enough for me. If I find it at shelf, I'll be picking one up.

Girasole Hybrid Red, Mendocino, CA - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah and 10% Merlot. Interesting blend and the most balanced red I drank tonight. Though Cabernet Sauvignon is the primary grapes, I got a mouthful of cherry, strawberry and even some floral notes. This is a lot more mellow than most CA Cabernet Sauvignon, but it has enough structure to hold up to weightier meals.

Frey Petite Sirah, Mendocino, CA - I wish more producers made Petite Sirah because when it's good, it is so good. This particular Petite Sirah has notes of violet, berry and a hint of earthiness. It's lovely and versatile and I can't wait to share the bottle I now have with sme friends.

Casa Barranca Syrah, Ojai, CA - bright red berries give way to gamey, earthy secondary notes. Reminded me of something I'd taste from the Rhone. My type of Syrah. Yum.

I know that many think that wine, by nature, is Organic, but it's much more complex. Producing a good wine without using any pesticides or unnatural filtering techniques takes a great deal of talent and finesse. I tasted over 40 wines tonight and there were many that I would gladly purchase. In fact, it was hard to cut my list of favorites down to 5.

I hope all of you get the chance to try at least one of these wines. I'll be seeking them out again.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rhone: The Only Region Where I'd go North in the Winter

Rhone ranger.  Rhoneophile.  These are a few of the terms I've used to describe my love of Rhone wines.  So you can imagine how excited I was for the Essex County Wine Society Northern Rhone Red Wine tasting.  The Northern Rhone is one of my favorite regions because they make hearty syrah with a range of secondary notes from the gamey to the herbaceous to the floral.  One of the reasons they get such a range is that winemakers in the Northern Rhone will blend Syrah with up to 10% Vigonier, a floral and crisp white grape from the region.  Additionally, Northern Rhone Syrah tends to be very acidic, often due to Viognier, which makes it a great food companion.

Unfortunately the Northern Rhone can also be a very "un-ocratic" region as wines can cost well over $100 per bottle.  However, as with all regions, there are values to be found.

Luckily, there was one value wine in my 3 favorite wines of the evening.
-2009 Domaine Durand, Cornas, Empreintes Syrah:  Delightful nose and palate of bright cherry with some herbal notes; Very dry, but fruit forward (compared with French, not Californian wines) - $35
-2009 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Cote Rotie, Syrah (w/Viognier):  Gamey with hints of cherry and pepper; Classic Cote Rotie and one of my favorite flavor profiles - $135  

I know that $35 is hardly a value wine for most people, but in the context of Northern Rhone red wine, any good wine under $40 can be considered a value.  Moreover, you can find great Viognier from the Northern Rhone for well under $40.  Like most white varietals, it's food friendly and pairs well with many different cuisines.

Northern Rhone wines tend to be very dry and acidic and are definitely not for everyone.  Though if you're looking for a big, red wine to go with a hearty meal, you can't go wrong with a Northern Rhone red.  It's the only way I go North in the winter!

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff.

Alli M.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Earlier this week I was in Washington, D.C. for business and was lucky to have some time to visit some great restaurants.  All had very good wine lists, but one in particular, Agora, had the added benefit of an excellent sommelier.  As much as I love to dig into a wine list and find old favorites, I like it even more when the person who designed the list can take me through it and recommend new favorites.

Agora is a Meditteranean restaurant and my friends and I planned to order a variety of dishes ranging from seafood to red meat.  We were looking for a medium bodied red that could accommodate a lot of different flavors and I've found that Pinor Noir and Gamay both fit the bill.

Rather than pick a Pinot Noir or Gamay, the sommelier steered me to Blaufrankisch, a light to medium bodied red wine out of Austria.  I'd had one Blaufrankisch years ago and found it to be far too acidic and unbalanced for my taste, but the sommelier seemed to be really passionate about the wine so we ordered it.  Good call.  The 2008 Judith Beck Blaufrankisch was a smooth, medium bodied red with bright cherry notes and good acidic structure.  It paired perfectly with almost everything we ordered - from the creamy hummus to the lamb flatbread to the filet.

In true wine-o-crat fashion, the Judith Beck Blaufrankisch retails for about $20 per bottle.  Unfortunately, Beck only produces 500 cases of this wine each year and it can be very hard to find so if you see it, buy it or order it.  It is a crowd pleaser as my friends Jenny, Jill, Chris and Matt can attest. 

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Looking for a good chardonnay - check out Domaine Corsin Saint Veran

I just returned from another great dinner club outing. We went to Fin in Montclair, NJ. We didn't have a good experience at Fin's sister restaurant, Salute, this past summer so we were a bit weary. Despite a rocky start - thnks to Fern for navigating us to a much better table - we ended up having a great time. Very good service, excellent food and as usual, stellar wine. My favorite of the evening was Meg's 2010 White Burgundy (Chardonnay) - 2010 Saint Veran Vielles Vignes by Domaine Corsin.

The Saint Veran was clean and crisp with classic notes of citrus and green. Moreover, it has a nice, supple body. It went with everything from my garden salad to my honey and balsamic glazed cod. The next time I plan to have seafood, this would be a go to bottle.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

South African Wine - Shudder No More

South African red wine.  This phrase usually sends shudders up my spine.  No matter how wine-o-cratic I aim to be, I think of South African wines as one step above white zinfandel.  So I was a bit wary of the latest Essex Wine Society Tasting focusing on the red wines of South Africa.  That said, I believe that South African wines have improved over the years and I am confident that one day I will find at least one South African wine that I love.

Unfortunately it didn't happen at the Essex County tasting, however; I found a few South African reds that I enjoyed and one that I would purchase.

My two favorites of the ten we tasted:

Ernie Els Signature 2006 - Classic Bordeaux Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet France with bright plum, berry and black currant notes.  Exhibits some vegetal notes, which tend not to be my favorite, but which add some structure.  The longer the wine sat in the glass, the more I liked it.  Unfortunately, it was also the 2nd most expensive wine we tasted and I'm not sure I'd spend $90 - $95 on a bottle.

Grangehurst Pinotage 2003 - I was shocked to find out that one of my two favorites of the evening was a Pinotage.  I have never liked a pinotage, but the best part of blind tasting is that you are not as swayed by pre-conceived notions of particular varietals or regions.  This pinotage was a pleasant surprise.  Smooth red berry notes give way to a medium, somewhat oaky finish.  I don't see switching this out for my favorite pinot noir anytime soon, but for $20 - $23, I would likely pick up a bottle if I came across it in a wine store.

It might be awhile before South Africa breaks into my list of favorite wine regions, but I'm starting to turn the corner.  However, I still stand behind some wine biases and I do not believe I'll ever see the day when I accept white zinfandel as a wine.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Should I take 1%, 2% or Half and Half with my Port?

I can be a wine snob.  O.k., I'm often a wine snob.  But the best thing about this hobby is how surprising it can be. 

Earlier tonight I attended a BYO wine dinner.  There were 30 attendees and well over 30 bottles of wine.  A few of the diners at my table brought two port wines that they'd made:  a white apple port and a dark coffee port.  I tend not to be receptive to home winemakers, but as many of you know, I love a good port so I was really curious.  Skeptical, but curious. 

My skepticism ebbed with each successive sip of the coffee port.  The body was thick, but not syrupy and though the coffee flavor was a bit heavy, it didn't completely overpower the raisin and licorice notes of the port.  Though I can't tell you where to buy this wine or what the price point can be, tonight's experience serves as a reminder of why it's always worth it to try a wine - even if it's a style, varietal or region you don't like or a source of which you're skeptical. 

And I'm not just saying this -- next week the Essex County Wine Society is holding a tasting of South African wines.  I have yet to find a South African wine that I really like.  I've found some that are drinkable, but none I'd choose over other varietals or blends from other regions.  Maybe I'll be surprised yet again next week?  Whatever happens, I'll be sharing it here.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Priorat = Good (better than my original headline which included a play on the word priority)

Last week The Essex County Wine Society hosted a tasting of wines from Priorat, a region in Northeastern Spain that is known for it's big, bold red wines. Wine from Priorat share a lot of characteristics with the Southern Rhone because most Priorats are blends consistng mostly of Syrah and/or Grenache (or as it's known in Spain, Garnacha). Merlot and Carignan (another grape commonly found in Rhone blends) are also often blended in Priorat.
As is typical of the Essex County Wine society tastings, we blind tasted 10 wines and rated them in three different groups. Yes, that is a lot of wine, but if you can contain yourself and stick to a few sips of each wine, you'll get through it fine.  And if you can't, this is why you leave me to do the tasting and writing!

I hadn't had a lot of exposure to Priorat, but I enjoy Southern Rhone wines so I liked a lot of what I tasted.  These are big, dry wines with a lot of alcohol (thanks to the Garnacha), so you don't want to serve these with appetizers or a light snack.  Also, a lot of these wines had some interesting rubber and smoke scents on the nose.  These often dissipated after a good 10 minutes, but I could asee how this might be off putting to some.  That said, I think these are really interesting, complex and flavorful wines and worth the risk.

The three wines that were my favorite of the evening:
Ardiles Merum 2004:  Bright berry on the nose and palate; Slight rubber smell on the nose that I didn't get on the palate; Subtle mineral and herbal notes; Nice tannic structure
Salanques 2006:  Gamey nose with some cherry notes; Velevety mouth feel with bright berry flavor and savory notes
Vall Llach Idus 2006:  Bright berry nose with leather and earth notes; Nice balance of fruit and minerality on the palate; Flavors stick around for awhile (a.k.a. medium to long finish); Favorite of the evening

South Africa is the next region that the Essex County Wine Society will be tasting.  Admittedly, this is one of my least favorite regions, BUT, I will be at that tasting and I will give it my best.  Yes, this is such a sacrifice!

Before then, I expect to have at least a few other wine encounters.

Until those next sniffs, sips or quaffs,

Alli M.

Monday, January 9, 2012

When I think of athletes and wine, I either think of champagne in locker rooms or Greg Norman's eponymous label.  Given their salaries and lifestyles, I assume that there are more than a few sports stars that are also oenophiles, but you tend not to hear about thise side of their personalities.  I was pleasantly surprised to open this weekend's Wall Street Journal to find that Lettie Teague profiled one of my favorite retired baseball players, Mike Piazza, and his love of wine.

Despite my lifelong allegiance to the Philadelphia Phillies, I've always respected ex-Met Mike Piazza.  He was an excellent ball player and he always seemed to be one of the "good guys."  Plus, he had (has?) truly magnificent, uh, hindquarters.  Truly a joy to watch in every way.

As it turns out, Mike Piazza's dad was a wine importer and he has been a lifelong student/fan of wine.  Moreover, Piazza appreciates both red and white, which to me is the sign of a true wine lover. 

For the full article, check out this link:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203462304577138622912924912.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Later this week I'll be attending a tasting of Priorat, a Spanish varietal.  I look forward to sharing all of my notes (or really the truncated version).

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's been a lovely 3 weeks of reds, late harvest whites and of course, plenty of sparklers. I have been remiss about posting about my latest wine adventures, so I'll just share a wrap up of my favorite Wines of 2011 Chrismukkahnewyears.

Marques de Rsical Rioja, 2002 and Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, 2000 (I think): A few weeks ago I had a dinner club meeting that happened to be the night before my friend, Meg's birthday. Meg has been on an Iberian wine kick lately so I broke out these two Spanish wines. Both wines are made primarily frm the tempranillo grape and both were excellent, but they were very different which speaks to the importance of "terroir" or in non wine snob, the soil, climate and region in which the grapes are harvested. The Marques de Riscal was smooth with balanced notes of berry, smoke and leaher. The subtle way in which it presents its flavors is due to the time it was aged in oak barrels as well as the time I held onto it. The Lopez de Heredia was a lot bigger and more rustic, but with a lot of bright cherry notes. Lopez de Heredia is great at producing powerful wines that do not overpower most dishes.

Kistler Chardonnay: I didn't catch the year, but it doesn't really matter to me because I've always enjoyed Kistler's Chardonnay. One of the few buttery, oaky California chardonnays I like. They somehow seem to balance the fruit just right so it's right on the edge of being out of balance, but holds its ground. If you like minerally, acidic Chardonnays that show a lot of citrus or green apple, this one is not for you.

Marc Bredif Vin Moelleux Nectar 2000: I hesitate sharing this one because I bought it at the vineyard on my trip to The Loire and it's virtually impossible to find in this country. One of the best dessert wines I've had lately (and I drink a lot of good dessert wines). We drank this at the conclusion of Meg's pseudo-birthday dinner and it was the hit of the evening. As the name suggests, it tastes like fresh peach nectar without the thick pulp and tongue coating. If you get a chance to have a Bredif Nectar from any year, go for it.

Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Belles Annees, NV: One of my favorite sparkling wine and for $40, you cannot do better (for those who swea by Veuve, I promise this is better). Tight bubbles, but slightly less effervescent than most champagnes. Bright fruit and acid with a lot of minerality that somehow does not overwhelm. Almost too easy to gulp, which I learned while watching Justin Bieber perform "Let it Be" on the New Year's Eve special. And I almost killed the bottle while listening to Ce-lo Green murder "imagne.". What is it with less talented musicians wanting to "honor" The Beatles by destroying their music?!?
So now it's 2012 and one of my goals is to post more consistently in the future.

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff, or random musing about wine or the state of the music industry,

Cheers and Happy New Year,

Alli M.