August 29, 2008

Super Swanky Bottle Design - Logan Wines

There is something you should know about me... Something deep... Something dark...
I sometimes make purchasing decisions based on packaging... shhh.

I can't help it. Before I made my food and wine obsessions my job, I lived another life, albeit brief, in advertising. Now, I try not to let my fascination with marketing affect my wine-buying decisions. The juice is far more important than vessel which contains it (until that vessel is my glass). But I found the following piece on theDieLine and I just had to share because it involves a producer that I've always wanted to try. The perfect marriage of artfully crafted package design and the lovingly crafted product contained therein:
From War Design: Logan Wines is a boutique winery based in Mudgee NSW (Australia). Since their launch 11 years ago, Logan wines have built a reputation for wines that occupy a top-end niche position in Australia and key overseas markets including Japan and the UK. The brand's core drinkers could be best described as investigative connoisseurs - those not afraid to try something else in the pursuit of excellence.

The Logan identity reflects the attention to detail, personal and highly crafted approach the Logan's take to everything they do. Taking the lead from Logan's bold and highly individual approach to winemaking, a concept based upon embroidery was chosen as an ideal metaphor to the care and effort placed into the wine. The concept required the embroidering of beautifully intricate compositions of fruits, berries, leaves and flowers to represent the textures and flavours of each varietal. These stunning representations were then rolled out across all touch points. Thanks must go to Delma - the lovely embroiderer that brought the concept to life, stitch by painstaking stitch. One very talented lady indeed!

log0408_labelchardonnay_lr_4.jpgYou can see the level of craft and care that has gone into producing these labels, and it's the attention to detail that elevates these designs from being simply being beautiful into something meaningful. Just like the wine itself apparently. Via TheDieLine

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August 28, 2008

FAZI BATTAGLIA TITULUS - Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico 2007


In 1953, Fazi Battaglia announced a national competition to create a new bottle in order to personalize its extraordinary production of Verdicchio. Architect Antonio Maiocchi, inspired by the ancient Etruscan amphora, created the acclaimed Fazi Battaglia emerald green "amphora", in 1954 recognized throughout the world as the ultimate icon for Verdicchio.

Ahhh, the beautiful Adriatic Coast. I remember fondly early summer days driving east from Bologna, bobbing from seaside town to seaside town... Rimini... Riccione... Eating piadini and almost-frozen lemon yogurt at the beach by day and enjoying a bounty of fresh local seafood at night. The wine of choice was decidedly light and crisp and of course, fish friendly.

A little further down the coast lies the Marches region. Fazi-Battaglia is a renowned producer in this area and this verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is a prime example of their pursuit of excellence. The Titulus is 100% verdicchio, hand harvested and then fermented in stainless steel tanks prior to additional time in the bottle. The resulting wine is quite a pale yellow-green. Gossamer light with hints of almond shell and golden apple on the nose, then softly fruity with a fresh, clean mineral finish. You'll want to slurp it with a straw, but control yourself. Practice a little decorum. A lovely aperitif, or as mentioned, ideal with light seafood (particularly shellfish). Mi piace molto.

VARIETAL: Verdicchio
REGION: Marches, Italy
PRICE: $11

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August 27, 2008

Drip Ruff - Renaissance Fashion Meets Function for Your Bottle

dripruff2.jpgI first saw this drip catcher on NOTCOT, but the following is excerpted from Red Dot Design Awards:

Drip Ruff's design is based on a honeycomb structure that is shaped into a 360-degree ring. It is made entirely from Indian paper - an absorbent material normally used in traditional Chinese painting. The folding method used in its construction provides the elasticity required to "grip" the neck of a bottle. Drip Ruff is disposable after use, and the paper used is recyclable, which makes it environmentally friendly, hygienic and convenient to use.

Obviously depending on price and availability, these could be really nifty to have on hand when you are hosting a dinner party or wine tasting and lots paws will be handling your bottles. Of course, if you're looking for a re-usable alternative check out this Drip Stop Ring

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August 25, 2008

Terruzzi e Puthod Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2005

t&pvernaccia.jpgVARIETAL: Vernaccia
REGION: San Gimignano (Tuscany), Italy
PRICE: $10

Blech. Ick. Yuk. Phooey. Lemonheads meet Pixie Stix with an undercurrent of Smarties.

But here is why: In my haste to pick up milk, yogurt and wine (my staples) in under three minutes, I mistakenly purchased this foul bottle of vernaccia. What should have been lovely and light with a floral nose and succulent pear-apple notes, turned into an unpleasant, sickly sweet and sour mess.

Here is a little piece of advice: don't buy wine when you're really rushed. Or if you do, remember to check the vintage! I feel like I've picked up quite a few bum bottles lately and every single mis-pick could have been avoided if I had just taken a breath and looked at the vintage. If you're buying a light Italian white--or any light bodied white--the vintage should be within 2 years, ideally within one year of the current date. Anything older is likely to bring disappointment. And, don't assume your favorite wine shop is on the ball. I bought this bottle at Whole Foods and though I feel they are a trusted purveyor, I also believe they do not want to get stuck with a bunch of old, fairly obscure Italian wines. Shame on them for over-buying and shame on me for not paying attention.

I do love vernaccia, so check back for the real review of this wine... Coming soon, I hope!

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August 24, 2008

Castle Rock Sonoma County Syrah 2006

2005SonomaCountySyrah6.jpgVARIETAL: Syrah
REGION: Sonoma County, California
PRICE: $10

I have this weird relationship with Castle Rock wines. If I'm out shopping and don't have time to hit my favorite wine spots, I grab a Castle Rock wine at the grocery store and I know I won't be embarrassed to serve it. Medium-bodied and smooth the Castle Rock syrah provides pleasing dried berry aromas and at first sip, lots of up-front jammy fruit--ripe dark berry, dried cherry and plum--rounded out with a little subtle spice and sweet tobacco. Certainly not the most refined or complex syrah, but for the price it is very drinkable and ultimately likeable. Overall, a good go-to wine when choices are limited. I served it with barbequed chicken, but I think it would do well with most red meat, hard cheese, and blue veined cheese as well.

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August 21, 2008

Domaine de la Batardiere Muscadet 2006

batardieremuscadet.jpgVARIETAL: Muscadet
REGION: Loire Valley, France
PRICE: $10

Also known as Melon de Borgogne, Muscadet is the perfect quaffer for the languid, hazy days of summer. If you find yourself feeling a little wilted and weary, chill a bottle of the Domaine de la Batardiere and prepare to be refreshed. The bouquet is all sweet smelling summer fruit. Succulent peach, melon and and citrus aromas are a little misleading. Though sweetly fragrant, this wine has very little residual sugar. Vivacious and vibrant with grapefruit and lime cleaning the palate. It is super crisp and clean with a distinctly Loire minerality that just begs for steamed crabs and fresh Maryland silver queen corn... or just a steamy evening on the porch swing.

Look for it at BevMo ( if you have one) or Whole Foods. But make sure you get the 2006. I initially, mistakenly picked up a leftover 2004 and though it wasn't terrible, it certainly was not a prime example of what a Muscadet can and should be.

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August 14, 2008

St. M Riesling 2006

saintM.jpgVARIETAL: Riesling
REGION: Pfalz, Germany
PRICE: $11

It is no surprise that the Saint M is a Dr. Loosen Estate wine. True to its roots, this riesling is soft and subtly sweet like ripe nectar pressed from early summer peaches and green pears. It thankfully resists the cloying sweetness that is often expressed in cheaper German rieslings, though it still has that slight twinge of kerosene that is so typical. Is that terrior? Or just an oddity of the varietal? I don't know, but it seems more pronounced in sweeter incarnations. The Saint M redeems itself with a light and lovely crispness that foils the sweet viscosity and cleanses the palate a bit. I'm partial to pairing rieslings with spicy noodle or rice dishes, but tonight I was adventurous and tried it with a jerked pork tenderloin. Good, but maybe better with a heavier riesling or gewurtz.

I found mine at my nearest market, but if you have trouble getting it locally, you can find it here: Saint M Riesling

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August 12, 2008

Recycled Windshield Wine Glasses

windshield-glasses.jpgCheck out these fantastic and green (literally) stemless wine glasses from Uncommon Goods:

Handmade in Colombia of recycled glass from old car windows, these substantial stemless wine glasses will add an interesting twist to any glass of wine. Sturdy and strong, the thick glass has a slight green hue from the tint originally added to lessen the sun's glare. Beautiful and interesting, these stemless wine glasses are an uncommon take on a stylish design. Each is one of a kind and will vary. Sold as a set of 2.

Charming and stylish for only $22. And they are dishwasher safe.

Image and content via Uncommon Goods

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August 8, 2008

La Grande Dame by Riva Collection

veuveriva.jpgI'd like to tell you that this was my anniverary present...and that we enjoyed it while drifting off the coast of Cap-Ferrat. Alas, I would be hallucinating. But it is nice to dream. For the Champagne lover with impeccable taste and very deep pockets, check out the Veuve Clicquot Riva Collection, courtesy of Acquire:

Veuve Clicquot and luxury yacht builder, Riva, are collaborating on a stunning collection of products called "La Grande Dame". The collection features two products -- The Cruiser Collection which is a made to measure piece and comes with 4 bottles of La Grande Dame, 2 magnums of La Grande Dame 88, 6 Riedel Champagne Flutes, 6 water tumblers, plates, table mats, and cutlery. The second item is their "Cruiser Bag" which is a limited edition piece (Only 300 made) and includes a bottle of La Grande Dame 88 and two champagne flutes.

Via Acquire

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August 5, 2008

Pour on - Porrón Wine Pitcher

porron.jpgIf you are a fan of Spanish wine (and food, and culture), you must check out this fantastic pitcher from La Tienda. It is only $19.95, which makes it a great hostess gift, guaranteed to liven even the dullest gathering. I wouldn't start with a priorat. . . but maybe a lovely albarino. . .

A porrón is a sure-fire way to have fun at a summer party. See if you and your guests can master the technique of delivering a thin stream of wine into your mouth with nary a drop lost!
You begin by bringing the traditional glass wine pitcher very close to your open mouth and slowly tilting the pitcher so the spout points towards your teeth. Once the wine begins to flow, you gradually pull the porrón away from your face while looking up. When you have had your fill, lower the porrón back close to your mouth before tilting it back to stop the flow. It never touches your lips as you pass the porrón to your adventurous friend!
Easy? Once you get the hang of it. Most people fill the pitcher with regular white or red wine, but we find that sparkling cava fills the bill nicely, and the near misses are not quite so obvious.

Our traditional porrón is a thing of beauty made of recycled glass, which will please your "green" sensibilities. It is shaped in a way that wine stored within has minimal contact with the air.

Give the Porrón Pitcher a try - it's a great conversation piece and a lot of fun.

Image and content via La Tienda - The Best of Spain in America

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August 4, 2008

Washington Hills Gewurztraminer 2006

small_Gewurzt_label.jpgVARIETAL: Gewurztraminer
REGION: Columbia Valley, Washington
PRICE: $7.99

It isn't often that I take three sips of a wine and hastily dispose of the remainder in my sink. I have only one word to adequately describe my experience with this wine: blech! I bought it to accompany my weekly Indian fix and as usual, before dinner, I readied my notepad and poured myself a glass. It smelled fine. Not as aromatic as Gewurtz should be in my opinion, but it seemed drinkable. And then, BLECH!! Pixie stix meets overripe grapes. I spit it out and did my due diligence. I waited to taste it with dinner before making my final judgment. After all, sometimes wine tastes better with food. Ugh. Why did I bother? Unappealing and overall undrinkable. If you want to give it the benefit of the doubt it could very well be a bad bottle or just past its prime. But as for me, I'll be steering clear of Washington Hills wines for a while. I'm still shuddering. . .

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August 1, 2008

To Market, To Market - Bread & Wine Bag

breadwinebag.jpgI love it and I hate it . . . where to begin?
I LOVE the idea of a bread and wine bag to take to the market. It is very laid-back-European and of course, appeals to my inner conservationist. I've often wondered how I could keep my wine bottle(s) from crushing delicate produce in my floppy, pocket-less canvas satchel. This leather version from Rebecca Minkoff is an adorable solution.

HOWEVER, I'm disinclined to pay $185 for a leather bag that will doubtless encounter all manner of leaks, spills, and sweaty refrigerated foods. How about a cheap, fun canvas or burlap version? Way more my speed. I don't think you need to spend a fortune to conserve. Oxymoron, anyone? These days being "green" is often synonymous with spending green.

That said, if you have the disposable income, by all means splurge. And then keep coming back to us for cheap, fun picks to fill the wine pocket.


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