Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guilhem Moulin de Gassac Blanc 2014

This charming wine is from the Pays d’Herault appellation in the Languedoc region in the South of France. It’s a perfect summer white, with a blend of Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Terret. Light to medium bodied, it’s dry but with plenty of soft fruit. Minerals emerge on the finish. It’s terrific as an aperitif or just to cool off by the pool, and will pair nicely with soft cheeses, salads, pastas, chicken and fish dishes. Buy it by the case. $9.99

Monday, June 1, 2015

Laurent-Perrier Millesime 2004 Champagne

We recently opened a fantastic vintage champagne that is also an unbelievable value. Laurent-Perrier’s Millesime 2004, a blend of 50/50 Chard and Pinot Noir, merits comparison with vintage champagnes that cost much more, and can easily outdistance other cuvees in a similar price range.

This sparkler sports a gorgeous medium gold color. Vibrant, with lovely bubbles and terrific mousse and texture. Toasted cocoanut is found on a nose that also includes freshly cut hay, toasty apples and vanilla. The medium to full bodied palate has berry fruit, hazelnut, plus baked apple. The long, dry finish includes more subtle apple flavors along with a mineral component. Swirling produces subtle earth aromas. There is excellent acidity and great balance. The wine is bright, crisp and drinking great at eleven years of age. A steal at $48.97 –Christian Botta

Saturday, May 2, 2015

New York State Wines Ready for Summer!

As part of New York State Wine Week at Garnet, we held a tasting that included two of the top producers from the Finger Lakes region: Ravines Wine Cellars and Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard. Wiemer has been listed on Wine and Spirits Top 100 wineries in the world for the past 6 years while Ravines has been featured on the Wine Spectator top 100 wines list twice since 2010. 
The region’s unique soils combined with the lakes’ moderating effects on weather have made it ideal for many cooler climate varietals to thrive. The 2012 vintage featured a long, warm growing season adding richness and depth to the reds which was perfectly showcased in the Wiemer Cabernet Franc. A wetter than normal summer in 2013 meant ripening was a bit behind schedule but a perfect September and October saved the day. Rieslings fared very well and the 2013 Ravines Dry Riesling showed beautifully, ready for the summer months ahead. 
Those inclined to seek out a sweeter rendition can look for the Late Harvest Riesling from Wiemer. Lucious yet elegant, it’s a perfect match for lobster come June.  Oskar Bynke, co-owner of Hermann Wiemer explained that the 2014 season started off with quite a scare. Record low temperatures in March and April led to some vine damage and vintners crossed their fingers waiting for bud break. In mid-May that arrived and after a cooler growing season, another beautiful fall resulted in racy rieslings showing high acidity and bright fruit. 

 Oskar Bynke, right with Deborah Anaymo and Eric Elkin, Garnet's New York State wine buyer.

Rounding out the tasting were two unsung heroes from Ravines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot don’t always find success in cooler climates but Morton Hallgren of Ravines proves that the right vineyard sites and deft wine-making win out every time. Those who long for Bordeaux of the distant past will be delighted by this balanced and nuanced blend. The Village White turns French-American hybrid varietals Cayuga and Vignoles into a surprisingly complex and delicious white wine.

Ravines Village White 2013
Very pale gold. Pretty nose with flowers and fragrances of orchard fruit, peaches, pit fruit and grapefruit – a complex and deliciously inviting nose! Lychee comes out with more air. Soft, medium bodied with balanced acidity. Long, persistent finish that includes citrus flavors and apples. $11.99

Ravines Dry Riesling 2013
Pale gold. A bit shy on the nose to start with hints of petrol, white floral notes and some lemon-lime. A touch lighter than the Village White. Dry and austere with nice acidity. Well balanced with an excellent, mineral-laced finish. $16.99

Ravines Meritage 2009
A Meritage (rhymes with heritage) is a blend of the usual Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc but made outside of Bordeaux. Beautiful transparent ruby color. Oak on the nose with hints of spice, earth and more than a little rich currant alongside some asphalt and other mineral aromas. Complex nose! Medium bodied with a citrusy element, dry cranberry and savory cherry fruit on the palate. A long finish completes the picture. $23.99

Wiemer Dry Riesling 2014
Medium gold color. A hint of fresh cream with green pear and honey on the nose. Some effervescence on entry. Juicy wine with great balance, bright acidity and a long finish. Light to medium bodied with excellent texture. Refreshing! $18.99

Late Harvest 2013
An 18-Carat gold hue to this wine, ie gorgeous. Rich, ripe fruit aromas on the nose. Round, medium-full body. Good persistence with minerals and soft stone fruit flavors. Luscious without being over the top. $27.99

Cabernet Franc 2012
Another gorgeous robe, this one the color of the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, befitting the deliciously complex wine that follows. Plenty of earth on the nose along with soft cranberries. Very inviting. Hints of oak from neutral/used barrels. Very aromatic and ripe but at the same time elegant. An expansive, dry palate with good fruit and mineral flavors. Finishes well.  $24.99
-Christian Botta & Eric Elkin

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Garnet Sales Staff Afghan Kebab House Wine Tasting

On a blustery Saturday night in February, the Garnet sales team headed over to the Afghan Kebab House on Second Avenue and Seventy-First to take advantage of this friendly restaurant’s corkage-free BYOB policy and delicious cuisine, sampling some of our favorite wines. The food was great and so was the company. But the wines took center stage as we paired mainly old world styled wines with the hearty, spicy Afghan meal.
Ferrari Blanc de Blanc NV
This Italian Blanc de Blanc (100% chardonnay) has nice weight with 12.5% alcohol. It’s  dry and slightly earthy with flavors of ripe yellow apples. Good texture and mousse. Excellent as an aperitif, this delicate sparkler is elegant, feminine, and balanced. ($22.49)
Peter Schandl Pinot Blanc 2011 Halbtrocken
A light to medium-bodied off-dry charmer, this Austrian pinot blanc has hazelnuts on the nose, with good acidity and just a hint of sweetness on the palate. There is a hint of beefy bouillion on the nose, as well. Perfect with the spicey appetizers, it’s a beautiful soft-textured wine with rich but subtle fruit on the palate and a very long finish. ($23.99)
Crasto 2012 Superior Douro
A beautiful purple robe is followed by violets, slate, and earth on the nose. Soft and full-bodied but with good structure. Dark fruit flavors include plums and red currants which are supported by sweet tannins. This mildly spicy wine has an expansive finish and it was great with the lamb shank. ($26.99)

L’Heumeur Vagabonds Domaine Le Clos du Serres 2011
An inky purple color suggests that this will be a full-bodied wine. Red currants along with fresh meat, cumin, and floral aromas make up the complex nose. Black currants on the round, silky textured palate. The tannins are mostly resolved but the remaining soft tannins hold everything together and cut through the fat of the lamb shank. Ready to drink, rich, and satisfying. ($27.99)
Domaine de la Morderee Lirac Dame Rousse 2012
Pepper, garrigue, and thyme on the nose. Tons of thyme along with red and black currants on the palate. Beautifully balanced and complex. Full-bodied with very good acidity.  Lavender develops on the nose with more air time. Drinking very well right now. ($23.99)
Bedrock Old Vine California Zinfandel 2013
Winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson is the son of Zinfandel legend Joel Peterson, the founder of Ravenswood. A pretty wine, the 2013 Bedrock Old Vine Zin has lots of oak and berries plus a saline note on the nose. Full-bodied with tons of berry fruit and oak on the palate. Fine tannins appear on the finish and dovetail nicely with the velvety, soft texture. A little out of place in this tasting that featured mainly European and more old-world styled wines, the Bedrock Zin was nonetheless elegant and complete and the favorite of one of the tasters. ($29.99)
Tokaji Royal 2008 5 Puttonyos Tokai
The designation ‘puttonyos’ refers to the traditional baskets that are used to measure the botrytis-infected grapes that are added to the blend to increase sweetness. Six puttonyos is the maximum, although that level is rare. The wine has a beautiful golden amber color. There is apricot on the nose along with an orange peel note that carries through to the palate. Less sweet than expected, the wine has excellent acidity that keeps the wine refreshing. The nose and palate develop more nuance as they open up in the glass. Lighter than a Sauternes at 11.5% alcohol.  An endless, resonant finish lasts until the next sip. ($52.99)
-Christian Botta

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Super Red Burgundy From Marsannay

I recently tried a terrific red Burgundy that is a wine that you won’t want to miss out on. The Domaine Bart 2012 Marsannay “Champs Solomon” is a single vineyard wine that according to Pierre Bart may be upgraded to premier cru in the not too distant future. As it is, the site is one of the top vineyards in Marsannay and Bart is a top producer there, which combined with the small but high quality vintage of 2012 makes for a very nice bottle indeed.
The deep ruby red wine has a nose of flowers, berries and the telltale signs of the 25% new oak that this cuvee receives. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied with excellent grip (the combination of tannins and acidity that provide structure). There are plenty of subtle berry flavors along with a nice earthy note.
I drank the wine with some medium rare hanger steaks and after the food was finished, the smokey, earthy notes and tannic structure came to the forefront, suggesting that this wine will work nicely for mid-term aging. Burghound, aka Allen Meadows, one of the top if not the top Burgundy critics, calls this wine an “outstanding top value,” although he suggests holding the wine until 2019.
However, it will certainly be all gone from stores by then! And you don’t have to wait four years to uncork this beauty. See for yourself – a taste of a top Burgundian terroir is yours for the astonishing price of… $26.99!
-Christian Botta

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tasty Cab Franc for a Song

A new red wine arrival at Garnet is getting some notice. Domaine Laroque’s 100% cabernet franc bottling is tasty and priced for everyday enjoyment and/or parties. The wine sports an opaque purple robe and has earthy, woodsy cab franc scents on the nose. There are hints of raspberries and minerals, too. A dry entry is followed by a juicy mid-palate with delicious red fruit and a solid finish. Domaine Laroque 2013 is a very pleasant and quaffable medium-bodied dry red wine that will go with all kinds of cuisine including meat dishes, fish, pasta and hard cheeses. Good balance and good value with an elegant personality – just $9.99!

Domaine Laroque hails from the Cite de Carcassonne Indication Geographique Protege - Carcassonne is in the southwest region of France and the famous, walled medieval city there gives the appellation and the town, its name. -Christian Botta

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Delicious Red Zins Provide Cold Weather Comfort!

Baby it’s cold outside! And when the temperature drops, it makes you want to snuggle up with a hearty red wine. One of my favorite wines to cozy up to is red Zinfandel from California, made from one of the heartiest and most robust of the red grapes. Zins offer plenty of body along with rich berry flavors, spice and a smooth structure, perfect for sipping in front of an open fire or at the table with full-flavored, winter fare.

To view featured Zins, click HERE: 

 The Four Vines 'Truant' 2011  is a wine with much to recommend it. At only $10.99, it’s a notch above the competition in finesse and smoothness, with a core of spicy berry fruit and a judicious use of oak. Medium to full-bodied, it’s a Zin that bridges the gap between cheap and cheerful and the big boys.
Another favorite of mine is the Mettler 2012 Old Vines Lodi Zinfandel 'Epicenter.'   A powerful, full-bodied wine, it has a darker fruit tone than many Zins, with rich blackberries that resonate with an earthy, gravelly complexity. The wine has great balance and pairs well with a variety of full-flavored dishes. A particularly memorable meal I had included the Mettler Lodi Zin and a spit-roasted Peruvian chicken! Another steal at $16.99.
It will come as no surprise that the 2012 Ridge Three Valleys is both an excellent value and a wine to savor on a special occasion, as well. There are aromas of ripe raspberry and black pepper, and dark fruit comes on as it opens up in the glass. The tannins are sweet and contribute to the soft mouth-feel. The richness of the fruit is balanced by nice acidity.  As we've come to expect from Ridge, it’s a delicious and balanced wine that works well with a variety of foods or on its own. $24.99.
-Christian Botta