Monday, May 14, 2007


When I tasted the Conde De Valdemar, 2001 Reserva Rioja from Spain... I thought I was drinking Pinot Noir. It's spicy and smoky, it's leathery, it's a little dusty, (and after it opens up, some sour cherry) with light-to-medium mouthfeel. The wine is smooth and pretty but can pack a punch coming in at 13.5% alcohol, which is fairly substantial for a European wine.

This wine is made of the Tempranillo grape (85%), and 15% Mazuelo (a.k.a: Carignan). The Spaniards named the grape Tempranillo (i.e., "temprano" meaning "early") because the Tempranillo grapes used to ripen several weeks before the other varietals.

This wine sells for approx. $16, and to me seems well worth it. I've had pinot noir that cost twice as much but gave me half the experience. If you like hearty pinots and you like to explore, this is a good route for you.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blackylocks and the three Champagnes

Once upon a time,

there was a little girl named Blackylocks.

On a warm day, she took the top down of her car and went for a drive to the city. Pretty soon, she came upon a liquor store. "Oh my!" she said with glee, "Wine, Beer & Spirits. My favorite!"

No one was there, but the store was open. She walked right in.

On the shelves were three bottles of Champagne. This made Blackylocks very happy because she LOVED Champagne (she even loved cavas, proseccos and sparkling wines). But she was especially giddy today to see French bubbly.

The first Champagne had a vibrant green label with gold markings. The second bottle had a fancy shape to it, and the third bottle looked quite plain.
Blackylocks had tasted none of these Champagnes before, but she knew she was quite thirsty. She tasted the Champagne from the green bottle.

"This Philipponnat NonVintage Brut Reserve Royal is nice and citrusy, but kind of tastes like most of the other champagnes I’ve had... except this is a little smoother... but I don’t know if its worth $32!" she exclaimed.

She then tasted the second Champagne in the fancy-shaped bottle.

"This Vilmart et Cie, Grand Cellier Brut (Non Vintage) for $50 is smooth, delicate, has some chalky notes, a little vanilla, and is very beautiful.

"Vilmart et Cie is YUMMY!" she said.

Then Blackylocks tasted the Champagne from the plain-looking bottle.

"Ahhh, this Henri Giraud Francois Hemart , Ay Grand Cru (NV Brut, 12% alcohol) is JUST RIGHT!," she said, and happily drank it all up.




Blackylocks loved the yeasty, chalky characteristics of the Henri Giraud Francois Hemart and adored its minerality. It reminded Blackylocks of a French baguette. Composed of 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Approximately 435 cases made.

"This is my favorite Champagne, indeed!" Blackylocks said as she rubbed her tummy. "Better than Cristal or Krug. A great Champagne for $50. The stuff fairy tales are made of."

After she drank the Champagne, Blackylocks felt a little dizzy so she thought she would sit down and get her bearings. She sat for a moment, then stood up, left her money at the counter and went home.

Even though she had a slight headache, Blackylocks lived happily ever after.

The End.