Sicilian Wines

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Sicilian Wines

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea with a 600-mile coastland. It is one of Europe's oldest vinicultural regions with its fertile soil and long summers with little rain.

The oenological history of the island dates to as early as 1,500 BC. The Greeks introduced several varieties of vines when they began to settle in Sicily in the 8th century BC. In 1773, John Woodhouse started producing Marsala, Sicily’s most famous wine.

Until about five years ago, nearly 75% of wine produced in Sicily was not bottled and shipped to be used in wine made elsewhere in Italy. New generations of winemakers are concentrating on choosing the right sites for the right grape varieties, yields have dropped and investments in marketing and vineyard practices have improved quality. Today, most of Sicily’s wine is bottled and some of the best houses make excellent wines that because of the small quality are only enjoyed by locals and visitors.

As Sicily's wine tourism grows steadily, the destination was just named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine's 2017 “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations” for the first time.

The island's wine tourism is largely influenced by a consortium of 130 Sicilian wine producers committed to preserving and promoting Sicily's winemaking industry. There are 23 denomination of origin (or "appellation" abbreviated D.O. or D.O.C.), and one D.O.C.G. wine: Cerasuolo di Vittoria.
 

International grape varietals including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are grown. The native or indigenous Sicilian grape varieties are important in wine production. The red grapes are:  Nero D’Avola, Nerello, Perricone, Primitivo, Frappato, Gaglioppo, Zibibbo, and the whites: Cataratto, Grecanico, Grillo, Inzolia, Zibibbo, Damaschino, Trebbiano, Ausonica, Moscato Bianco, Carricante, Corinto Nero.

Our March 8th tasting features the wines from Villa Pozzi, each varietal priced at only $9.99!

When you open a bottle of Villa Pozzi, our hope is to transport you to a cozy Italian villa nestled in a small Sicilian town far away from the busy every day. It’s a leisurely escape from the world outside and a journey of taste that makes any day feel special.”

- Daniele Pozzi, Owner & Winemaker
 
Pinot Grigio – A fragrant, richer Pinot Grigio than you might expect. It showcases aromas of lemon, white peach, and pear. It’s clean and well balanced with bright acidity, and the finish lingers with notes of stone fruit and flowers.

Nero d'Avola – The most important indigenous red grape in Sicily. This wine reveals aromas of blackberry, white flowers, vanilla and a hint of figs. On the palate it is opulent and full-bodied with sweet tannins.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Twenty percent of the wine is aged in oak barrel while the rest is finished in stainless steel, leaving just a hint of warm vanilla to round out the rich fruit character of the grape.

Cheers,
Joyce Watson
Wine Director

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WINE FILMS + WINE & FOOD COMBOS

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WINE FILMS + WINE & FOOD COMBOS

February is a great month to watch films that celebrate the world of wine. From documentaries to comedies to romances, the story of wine is as complex as is a good glass of wine. We’re offering wine, food and movie pairings to make the experience an event! Save $2 on any lunch sandwich and 750 ml bottle of wine through February 28. Try our suggestions or pick your own.

1 | The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) - This is based on Robert Crichton’s 1967 novel of the same name. In 1943, the German army occupies the Italian hillside town of Santa Vittoria in the Marche winemaking region. The troops want to confiscate the region’s prized wine, but the cunning, oft-inebriated mayor (Anthony Quinn) and townspeople conspire to and successfully hide one million bottles in a cave.

Wine + Sandwich Pairing:
Bruni Poggio d’Elsa Tuscan  $11.99

Notorious P.I.G. $10

IVP_NotoriousSandwich.jpg

2 | Year of the Comet (1992) - Boy gets girl in this caper, in which a young wine professional (Penelope Ann Miller) uncovers the most expensive bottle of wine in the world in the cellar of a castle in Scotland. Tim Daly plays the part of her partner in fending off thieves in their attempt to bring the large format bottle of Bordeaux, from the vintage of the Great Comet of 1811, to auction.

Wine + Sandwich Pairing:
Chateau Roc de Minvielle Bordeaux $11.99
Habibi (Arabic for "my beloved") $10

3 | A Walk in the Clouds (1995) - A beautiful, unmarried and pregnant woman meets a married soldier (Keanu Reeves) returning home from World War II.  She tells him about her family’s Napa vineyard and the three generations that live there. She fears her father’s harsh and overbearing response to her situation and the soldier agrees to temporarily pose as her husband to save her honor. They fall in love and the story unfolds in the vineyard. 

Wine + Sandwich Pairing:
Rubus Cabernet Sauvignon $13.99

Hoos Got Beef $10

4 | Sideways (2004) - After the release of this movie Pinot Noir sales increased and Merlot sales decreased. The setting is California wine country where Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) embark on a week-long road trip just before one is about to be married. They are seeking the perfect bottle of wine!

Wine + Sandwich Pairing:
Lincourt CA Pinot Noir, $18.99

IvP Banh Mi $10

5 | Bottle Shock (2008) - In this comedic drama, Alan Rickman portrays Stephen Spurrier, an English wine merchant and Sommelier, who set up the Judgment of Paris. The 1976 blind tasting pit American wines against France’s best. Chateau Montelena in Napa won the Chardonnay competition and made the winemaking region famous. The film also chronicles a tumultuous father-son relationship that grows into trust.

Wine + Sandwich Pairing:
Annabella Napa Chardonnay, $14.99

Joy-Maica $10

6 | Somm (2012) - During nearly 40 years, only 220 professionals worldwide have passed the Master Sommelier exam, which is considered one of the crowning achievements of wine knowledge. This documentary follows four candidates as they swirl, sip and study for the test.

Wine + Sandwich Pairing:
Aquaribay Malbec $12.99

Spicy Porker $10

7 | Red Obsession (2013) - A stunningly shot documentary narrated by Russell Crowe about the Bordeaux winemaking region in France. Interviews with wine professionals and winemakers provide insight into China’s relentless pursuit of luxury Premier Crus and how it affects these chateaus and sets the prices in the global economy. For the Chinese, the brand recognition of prestigious bottlings is a symbol of what they have achieved and Western culture.

Wine + Sandwich Pairing:
Chateau Des Perligues Graves Bordeaux $15.99

Ruebenesque $10

I have really enjoyed watching these films! I hope that you do too!

Cheers,
Joyce Watson
Wine Director

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New Year, New Wine

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New Year, New Wine

Do you make resolutions for the new year?  I’ve always been a results-oriented person and typically commit to a few goals that I want to accomplish.  The year 2017 will be no different.  I’ve already made plans to travel to Italy in October and have applied to the master gardener program.

Even if you are not the resolution type, it's fun to learn more about wine. Here are ten ideas to try in 2017.

  1. Discover New Grape Varietals – Chances are you know the popular international grape varietals such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pick a country such as Portugal or Italy and explore their indigenous grapes. 
  2. Drink Globally – Explore all of the wine producing countries. The top ten countries (2015 data) are:  France, Italy, Spain, USA, Argentina, ChinaAustralia, Chile, South Africa and Germany.
  3. Perform Blind Tastings – This is a sensory examination and evaluation of wine that improves the individual’s ability to describe the perceived flavors, aromas and characteristics of a wine.
  4. Build a Wine Collection – Having a well-matched wine on hand to go with any meal or occasion is essential for any wine enthusiast. A small collection of 50 to 75 bottles is a good starting point.
  5. Visit Local Vineyards – We are fortunate to live close to the many wineries in the Monticello American Viticulture Area (AVA).  If you have visited all of those wineries, then consider exploring another Virginia AVA.
  6. Plan a Wine Destination Vacation – There are many to consider in the United States as well as in Europe and South America. One of my favorite wine vacations was Willamette Valley, Oregon, well-known for their Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
  7. Buy a Case of Wine to Age – Wine will mature over the course of several years. Buy a case of age worthy wine such as Napa, California Cabernet Sauvignon and open a bottle every year or so to see how it has changed.
  8. Take an Online Wine Course – The winter season is a great time to take an online wine course or read one of the many wine books available.
  9. Diversify – We all have our favorite varietals or regions, but look to broaden the group of wines that you know and enjoy. 
  10. Start a Wine Club – Gather a group of fellow enthusiasts who want to meet regularly to taste and learn. You’ll need to pick a theme, a budget and the meeting location.

- Joyce Watson, IvP Wine Director

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VIRGINIA WINE MONTH: Our Picks!

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VIRGINIA WINE MONTH: Our Picks!

OCTOBER is Virginia Wine Month and it is rapidly coming to a close. Hopefully you have had a chance to learn more about Virginia wine by visiting a winery or two. If not, you still have time this coming weekend! 

Many of us are very familiar with the wineries in the Central Virginia area.  According to the “2016 Virginia Winery Guide” there are 65 wineries to explore within about an hour's drive of Charlottesville.

This year we decided to learn more about the Northern Virginia winemaking region (88 wineries). On Saturday, Oct.15, my husband and I made the 2½ hour drive to attend “Epicurience Virginia” in the heart of Loudoun County.

The past three years, Epicurience was held on the grounds of Morven Park in Leesburg. The 2016 location was "The Barn at One Loudoun” in Ashburn, adjacent to an urban inspired mixed-use community with residential living and retail and dining opportunities. .http://www.oneloudoun.com/tag/the-barn-at-one-loudoun/

The education tent featured winemakers, sommeliers, and local food producers and covered a range of topics on Virginia wine including geographic terroir, varietals, culinary pairings, and more. Four seminars ran mid-afternoon and our good friend Matt Brown of King Family Vineyards, was on the panel of two of them.

The wineries attending the event were: 8 Chains North Winery, Bluemont Vineyard, Breaux Vineyards, Horton Vineyards, Maggie Malick Wine Caves, North Gate Vineyard, Stone Tower Winery, Sunset Hills Vineyard, Tarara Winery, The Vineyards & Winery at Lost Creek, and Zephaniah Farm Vineyard.

My favorites of the wines that I tasted were:

8 Chains North in Waterford, 8chainsnorth.com
2015 Lovo Vino – A blend of 30% Viognier, 30% Albarino, 20% Traminette and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Light-bodied and fresh with tropical fruit notes and bright acidity. Aged in stainless steel. Pairs perfectly with cheeses, salads, or crab cakes.

North Gate Vineyards in Purcellville, www.northgatevineyard.com
2015 Rkatsiteli – Possibly the oldest vinifera grape on the planet. Its accepted origin is in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains bordering Armenia and Turkey. Crisp and bright! Great with oysters on the half shell.

Fabbioli Winesin Leesburg, http://fabbioliwines.com/
2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve - Aromas of cherry, cinnamon, and floral notes with flavors of fresh pomegranate, red fruit, black cherry and herbs. The wine has received the following accolades: Gold Medal at the 2016 Virginia Governor's Cup and Governor's Cup Case, Silver Medal at the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition, Silver Medal at the 2015 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition and Silver Medal at the 2015 Loudoun Wine Awards. Additionally, Doug Fabbioli was recently named “Winemaker of the Year” at the second annual Loudoun Wine Awards.

Honey Grail in Leesburg, http://honeygrail.com/index.php/honey
Boudica’s Uprising - Honey mead is mankind's oldest alcoholic beverage. This is a naturally carbonated sparkling semi-sweet mead made with all-natural 100% True Source Certified Grade-A honey. It contains no added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The US Federal Government considers mead a wine.

Enjoy the fall weather with friends and family at a Virginia winery!

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Notes From Santa Fe Wine Festival

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Notes From Santa Fe Wine Festival

26th Annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta

I have wanted to go to the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta for at least a decade. My husband, Bob, and I recently traveled to New Mexico, flying into Albuquerque, where we met our good friends from New Jersey. Together we rented a car for the hour long trip to Santa Fe for five days of fun in an adobe style home just off Canyon Road.

The highlight of the 26th Wine & Chile Fiesta was the Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 25, where 75 great Santa Fe restaurants, 90 world-class wineries and 3,000 food and wine enthusiasts gathered on the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera, in full view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, under a very blue sky. 

I had reviewed the list of participating wineries and had a plan of attack for the 3-hour event. Our friends are California Cabernet Sauvignon lovers and they took off in a different direction. There were some fantastic wines and I selected bottles that I had not had before.

Although I thought the wine would be the focus at the event, very early on (like the first table) it turned out it was the food. I tasted as many different dishes as possible.  The food was simply AMAZING!!! We feasted on sautéed scallops in a mango chipotle cream sauce, ice cream with chocolate chile sauce, squash blossom tempura with toasted almond and saffron sauce, smoked duck breast with fig mole, pork carnita tacos, Frito pie, chargrilled lamb chop, Sicilian brittle with coconut rum pastry cream and fresh strawberries, braised bison short ribs, tuna tacos, coq au vin pot pie, spicy tuna salad and black rice with warm coconut milk. It went on and on and we ate until we could not hold another bite.

We also attended one of the many wine seminars offered the day before the Grand Tasting, “Grower Champagne.” In addition to the tasting and seminars, wine dinners were held at various local restaurants where special menu items were paired with wines being showcased in the festival.  We ate at La Plazeula at La Fonda where the featured wines were from the Michael David Winery in Lodi, California.

New Mexico is a wine region containing an incredible variety of vineyards, wineries, and tasting rooms amidst the low and high-desert vistas of the state. New Mexico Wine Growers Association website lists more than 50 wineries spread around the state. The economic impact in the state exceeds $60 million and production is expanding by 10 to 15 percent annually.
 
In addition to the wine fiesta there is great hiking in the area, along with an abundance of fine art galleries, boutique shops, fabulous restaurants and spas. It is definitely a vacation destination!

For more information, visit santafewineandchile.org

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Portuguese Wines & Memories of Mateus

When I became of legal drinking age in the mid-70s (18 then) my favorite wine was Mateus Rosé from Portugal. And, I was not alone in my love of it. At the time It was the most popular wine in the world. Even the Queen of England liked it and Jimi Hendrix was photographed drinking it out of the bottle. The bottle's shape was super cool and when empty, we dripped colorful candles onto it. It’s been a long time since I tasted it, but I remember it to be slightly effervescent, with good freshness and balance, and off-dry. It brings back many memories of my youth and the era.

Since joining the European Union in 1986, Portuguese winemaking regulations and quality guidelines now mirror those of other European countries. They have experienced three decades of progress to become a modern winemaking industry and compete in the international market with wines that have universal appeal. And, yes, they still produce Mateus.

Two fortified wines from Portugal are well-known: Madeira and Port. Portugal is also a major cork grower, producing about half the world output of commercial cork. But, its table wines have not received much attention, except by locals, until the last decade.
 
The wine appellations in Portugal are classified as D.O.C., Denominacao de Origem Controlada. The main regions are 1) Douro (center of Port production and elegant wines similar in style to Bordeaux);  2) Dão ( known for its big, full-bodied red wines); 3)  Bairrada (highest D.O.C. wine classification); 4) Vinho Verde (bright and zesty wines from the coolest, northernmost wine region); 5) Terras do Sado  (a peninsula area bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and two rivers: Tejo and Sado) and, 6) Alentejo (one of the warmest regions that covers one-third of the landmass).

Much of the wine is produced with indigenous grape varietals, and vinified as blends. For whites you find Loureiro, Arinto, Malvasia Fina and Alvarinho (known as Alvariňo in Spain). For reds it is Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz ( Tempranillo in Spain), Baga, Castelao and Trincadeira. 

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10 Facts About Merlot

Merlot is the second most planted red grape varietal in the wine-making world. Time to revisit the varietal!

10 FACTS ABOUT MERLOT

1 / Merlot is a red grape that originates from the famous Bordeaux winemaking region of France. There it is primarily a blending partner with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The country has more Merlot acreage than any other country and it is the most widely planted grape in France.

2 / The DNA of Merlot reveals that it is the offspring of Cabernet Franc (the father) and a now extinct varietal, Magdeleine Noire des Charentes (the mother).
In French the name Merlot means “The Little Blackbird.”

3 / Merlot is one of the three red noble grapes (the others are Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir). The grape commands the highest respect in the professional wine world.

4 / The movie “Sideways,” (2004) starring Paul Giamatti, caused a drop in sales of wine made from Merlot (many vines were pulled out and replaced with Pinot Noir). Merlot sales are rising and consumers are enjoying the wines again.

5 / It produces a dry, medium to full-bodied wine with red fruits such as plums and blueberries. It has lower acidity and softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon.

6 / Climate dictates the style of the wine. A cool climate Merlot, i.e. France, is more structured, leaner, possesses a higher presence of tannins and shows more herbal and earthy flavors.

7 / Warmer climate Merlot from Argentina, Australia or California, is more fruit-forward and lush and the tannin is less prevalent. The alcohol content can approach 14.5% when grown in warmer climates.

8 / Oak ageing adds structure and complexity to the wine. Light oak ageing can add notes of vanilla, coconut, violet, caramel and cloves. Heavier ageing adds smoke, toast, truffle, mushroom, earth, coffee, leather, cedar and cigar box notes.

9 / The skins of Merlot are thinner and more sensitive to the climate than Cabernet Sauvignon. It ripens more rapidly though.

10 / The best food pairings for Merlot are steak, beef (grilled, roasted, prime rib), lamb, pork, chicken, duck, pâtés, charcuterie, and caramelized roast vegetables.
 

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Why Wine Costs What It Does

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Why Wine Costs What It Does

Have you ever wondered why one bottle of wine costs $65 and another $15?  There is much more to the cost of a bottle than the wine inside. While only the consumer can make the final judgment as to what a bottle is worth, this article highlights some of the factors that are associated with the retail price that you pay.
 
Alcohol Taxes: According to http://www.tax-rates.org/virginia/excise-tax#WineTax, Virginia has one of the highest wine taxes at $1.51 per gallon. Our state's excise tax on wine is ranked #7 out of the 50 states and is already added to the purchase price of all wine bought in Virginia.
 
Distribution Costs: For less expensive and mid-range wines, the economics of distribution must cover production cost, taxes, import duties, transport and the various markups. For the pricier bottles the rules are less straightforward and price is more independent of costs.
  
Oak: Ageing wine in oak barrels costs more than producing it in stainless steel. 
 
Prestige: Brand names dramatically affect price. High end packaging, well-known and respected winemakers, advertising, location (terroir) and grape varietals all contribute to the price. An exclusive wine brand will command a premium, just as it does with clothing or automobiles.  
 
Time: The ageing of wine in oak barrels for a year or more and/or in a winery’s cellar enhances the drinkability of quality wines. An example of a red wine that improves with ageing is an Italian Barolo.
 
Volumes:  Almost all the high-priced wines around-the-world are produced in small amounts and typically command a higher price. The difference in volumes between small production and massive production explains why wines cost less at big box retailers like Costco, where wines from boutique wineries are rarely found and retailers take extremely small margins, but make it up in the volume sold.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at wine@ivyprovisions.com with any questions on the above or if I can help you with any of your upcoming wine needs.

Joyce

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Discovering Viognier

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Discovering Viognier

The Voluptuous Viognier Varietal


Viognier (pronounced VEE-ohn-yay) is well-known to many wine lovers in Virginia. It is believed Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards was the first to plant the grape in the state. He released his first vintage of Viognier wine in 1993. The varietal was designated as the state grape in 2011 by the Virginia Wine Board, and is on the tasting list at local vineyards.
 
Its origins go back to France, and in particular the Northern Rhone, where it is the main white grape of the French appellations of Condrieu and Chateau-Grillet. A small percentage is often blended with Syrah to add an aromatic bouquet to the red wine.
 
In 1965 only eight hectares of Viognier was planted in the Northern Rhone. It wasn’t until the 1990s when the amount of land dedicated to Viognier started to gradually increase in the Rhone and throughout other winemaking regions around the world. Today you can easily find a range of single varietal Viognier wines from France and Italy in Europe; from Virginia and California in the U.S; from Chile and Argentina in So. America; and from Australia and South Africa.

 

Viognier can produce a full-bodied lush character which includes fragrant notes of honeysuckle, jasmine, gardenia orange blossom, stone fruit flavors like peach and apricot and a spice component. The aromatic quality of the wines hint at sweetness, but the taste is actually dry. Although low-acidity Viogniers do not require oak ageing to provide balance, some restrained use of French oak can enhance the overall flavor. The wines often have between 13 and 14 percent of alcohol by volume.

A glass of Viognier is on its own causes you to pause and think about all of the aromatic and taste nuances. It is also a food friendly wine that pairs with chicken, pork, seafood, spicy Thai cuisine, tangines, roast turkey, dishes with fruit salsas and coconut.

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Backyard Bottles For Your Barbecue

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Backyard Bottles For Your Barbecue

BACKYARD BOTTLES FOR THE BARBECUE

Cold beer may be the first thing that you think of when it comes to purchasing beverages for barbecue fare, but the right wines can be just the thing you need to enjoy with your spread. The ribs, sausage, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, seafood, grilled corn, vegetable kabobs and watermelon are sure to take center stage, so you’ll want to purchase affordable wines that will complement the food and be enjoyed by all of your guests.
 
Please join us for our tasting on Wednesday, May 25, 2 to 7 pm, to try some of our options that will pair perfectly with your grilled feast.
 
Tip 1: You can’t go wrong with a sparkling wine. It’s a good choice for barbecue because it acts as a palate cleanser, much the way that beer can. Sparkling wine removes the richness and fat on your palate with acidity and coldness. 
 
Tip 2: Choose crisp, light-bodied, high-acid white wines like Riesling, Gruner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc for lighter grilled foods. Sauvignon Blanc is great with shrimp, and is the best wine with tomatoes. Off-dry Rieslings should pair nicely with spicier and sweeter barbecue flavors. Gruner with vegetable dishes is a good match.

Tip 3: Go for a dry rosé wine. It’s an all-purpose barbecue and summertime favorite.  Good rosés combine the crispness and refreshment of chilled white wine with flavors of red fruits, notes of tea, orange rind, strawberries and watermelon.

Tip 4: The smoky, spicy and sweet flavors of barbecue sauce needs a bold, fruity and spicy red wine. Try a fruity bold American Zinfandel or Syrah. An Italian Chianti or Barbera, with their higher acidity, will handle tomato-based sauces.

Tip 5: Shop for value for the reds. For the grilled meats without the sauce you can work with a wider range of reds. Although you might love a Napa Cabernet Suavignon, this is not the holiday or the meal to spend $40 a bottle. Look for affordable options such as  Argentine Malbec, and Spanish reds. A chilled Beaujolais with a hamburger will hit the spot.
 
Tip 6: Chill the Reds Too.  It’s been on the cooler side this month, but if it gets hot don’t be afraid to chill the reds slightly. When you chill a wine with big tannins it is more refreshing.

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Organic Wines Explained

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Organic Wines Explained

Sustainable, Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wines: What do the Terms Mean?

Sustainable
Sustainability is the idea that all farming practices should preserve the land and make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources to provide for current and future generations. Sustainability refers to a range of practices that are not only ecologically sound, but also economically viable and socially responsible. There are wineries that simply call themselves sustainable, but are actually organic. They may have chosen not to go through the long and costly process of becoming certified organic.

Sustainability certifications
While there are no set standards for sustainable farming there are third-party agencies that offer sustainability certifications such as the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing certification program. To learn more visit: .http://www.sustainablewinegrowing.org/. 

Another example is the Global Wine Sector Environmental Sustainability Principles which has a set of guidelines that aims to help wineries and growers take care of the environment, their employees and the community’s interests, along with the vineyard. More information is available at:  http://www.sustainablewinegrowing.org/docs/cswa_gwsesp_brochure.pdf

Organic
Growers of organic grapes do not utilize chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or genetically modified seeds. In order to be certified organic, a farm must not have utilized any of these products for at least three years.  A variety of ground cover plants, extensive use of compost and natural products are used to control pests and insects. There are many small artisanal producers that grow grapes in the spirit of organics, but are not legally certified. 

USDA organic designations

  •  “100% Organic”: The wine is made from 100% certified organic ingredients, processed without synthetic agents and contains no added sulfites*. Naturally occurring sulfite levels in these wines must be less than 20 parts per million. The label will bear the USDA 100% organic seal.
  • “Organic”: The wine is made with 95% certified organic ingredients, and contains no added sulfites. Winemakers must prove that certified organic ingredients aren’t available for the remaining 5% of ingredients. The label will bear the USDA organic seal.
  • “Made with Organic Grapes”: The wine is made with 70% certified organic ingredients, and sulfites can be added up to 100 parts per million. The label can't bear the USDA organic seal.

For more information, visit http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=organic-agriculture and http://www.ccof.org/certification.

Biodynamic
In 1924, the basic principles of biodynamic farming were established. The designation applies a holistic approach and philosophy that views farms and vineyards as self-sustaining ecosystems.  It uses the teachings of Austrian anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner who spent his life studying the forces that regulate life and growth. Everything that is done on the farm should bring harmony to the organism, keep the soil healthy and preserve the farm for future generations. While practices such as water conservation and energy reduction are implemented, other cosmic influences often apply such as planting, pruning and harvesting crops according to lunar and astrological cycles. Biodynamic certification can be costly to attain, so just as with organic farming, many biodynamically prepared wines do not say so on the label.
 
Biodynamic requirements
Biodynamic farms in the U.S. must pass the three-year transition-to-organic period required by the USDA's National Organic Program. Furthermore, they must implement other sustainable farming practices, including energy and water-saving techniques. Biodynamic wines may contain sulfites up to 100 parts per million. The Demeter USA logo on the label guarantees that the wine has been produced biodynamically.  For more information, visit the Demeter Association Website at,  http://www.demeter-usa.org/

Natural
The natural wine philosophy embraces the components of organic and biodynamic grape growing and takes it a step further by including minimum technological intervention in growing grapes and vinifying as naturally as possible. Additives such as sugar, acidifiers, and powdered tannins are avoided. Manipulations such as the use of spinning cones to remove alcohol, micro-oxygenation to accelerate aging, the use of laboratory cultivated yeast, filtering and removal of excess dilution in a wet vintage are unacceptable. In short, natural wines are the truest representation of what nature provided from the land in a particular year. For more information read this article at, http://www.rawfair.com/what-natural-wine
 
*Sulfites are preservatives, made from diluted mined sulfur, that prevent oxidation and bacterial spoilage. Because sulfites are an ingredient that can occur in wine naturally, and mined sulfites have been used in viticulture for centuries, their inclusion in organic wine is an area of contention.

 

 

 

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Cabernet Franc: Exclusive Tasting + Learning Opportunity

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Cabernet Franc: Exclusive Tasting + Learning Opportunity

Did you know that cabernet franc is the most important red grape of France's Loire Valley, a blending varietal of Bordeaux, one of the genetic parents of cabernet sauvignon, and Virginia’s most planted red grape?

Cabernet franc is thinner-skinned, earlier-ripening and fairs better in cold winters than cabernet sauvignon does. When planted in warmer weather regions greater levels of ripeness and more intense fruit structure develop. When ripeness levels are low, vegetative aromas such as bell pepper can be present due to a compound called methoxypyrazine.
 
At its best, the grape produces a wine of medium body, solid acidity, medium tannins, and savory and spicy aromas and flavors. It’s highly versatile and makes fragrant, elegant wines with earthy, peppery and herbal notes. Younger, lighter-bodied cabernet franc is an ideal red wine for summer, while the fuller-bodied wines are delicious with roasted meats such as a leg of lamb. 
 
Visitors to local wineries are familiar with the grape as it is considered to be among Virginia’s best red wines. The VA Wine Board’s 2014 Commercial Grape Report indicates that 964 tons of cabernet franc was produced. King Family Vineyards in Crozet has five acres of cabernet franc planted and harvests an average of four tons an acre each vintage, according to Wine Manager Matt Brown.

Ivy Provisions has organized a unique event so that our customers can learn more about cabernet franc. You’ll meet at King Family Vineyards where wine savvy Matt Brown, who is finishing his Level  IV certification from the Wine & Spirit Trust, will lead the private tour. You’ll walk through the vineyard where the cabernet franc is planted to discuss soil types, vineyard practices, and wine making techniques. Join Matt in a barrel tasting of the as of yet unreleased 2015 vintage, the 2014 vintage and a selection of older vintages from their library of wines. I will also be there offering light fare including fruit and artisan cheese, charcuterie, and ham biscuits, courtesy of Ivy Provisions. There will be time for socializing and questions.
 
The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. How do you take advantage of this exclusive opportunity? If you would like to attend, please call King Family Vineyards at 434-823-7800, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to purchase a ticket. Price is $45 per person. We expect to get an enthusiastic response and encourage you to act quickly as space is limited. 

Joyce

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Sparkling Wines & Special Event

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Sparkling Wines & Special Event

Our special complimentary Valentine tasting will take place at Ivy Provisions from 5 to 7 pm on Wednesday, February 10th. The details of the five sparklers and food pairings follow this informative column on sparkling wine.
 
“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars,” was Dom Perignon’s famous quote after his first taste of Champagne. Through the years the best Champagne from France represents the benchmark of the sparkling wine category.  There are many other types of bubblies that offer great taste at exceptional price points. Sparkling wine is a wonderful way to toast and celebrate special occasions, milestones and accomplishments. It is also an all-year-round wine that pairs well with food.
 
The Champagne region is known for the underlying layer of pure chalk, which contributes to the finesse and perfume of the wines. The wine can be made from three grapes: chardonnay (white grape), pinot noir and pinot meunier (red grapes). Champagne receives two fermentations. The first is done in a vat and provides the base wine. The second is done in the bottle and is aided by adding a blend of yeast and sugar. This process can take years. Eventually the bottle is turned and elevated and the yeast deposits shift into the neck. The neck of the bottle is immersed in freezing brine until a plug is formed. The cap is removed and the plug is expelled by the pressure in a process called disgorgement. A dosage (addition of sugar) is added depending on the desired dryness level.
 
When the Méthode Champenoise process, as described above, is not used to produce the bubbles, it is likely that the Charmat method was used. Here the second fermentation takes place in large tanks instead of the bottle, which is a less costly option. Carbonization is the cheapest and simplest method and pumps CO2 into the finished wine in the same manner that it is in soda. This produces much larger bubbles and is the preferred method for bulk production sparklers.
 
Wines with bubbles outside of Champagne are referred to as sparkling wine with more specific names for regional specialties. For instance, Spain’s sparkler is called Cava. Always a great value, Cava is a crisp sparkling wine that gets its name from the Cava appellation in the Catalonia region of Spain where it is produced. It is made from indigenous Spanish grape varieties in the same traditional method as Champagne. You will find a variety of grapes used to make sparkling wine throughout the wine producing world.
 
There are different levels of dryness in sparkling wines. From driest to sweetest the terms are: brut nature, extra brut, brut, extra dry, dry, demi-sec and doux. Brut is a popular style and contains less that 12 grams per liter of residual sugar. Demi-sec and doux wines are sweet and best paired with fruit or dessert.

Champagne and sparkling wines are categorized as vintage or non-vintage. A vintage sparkler comes from a single harvest year. Non-vintage wine makes up the majority of the market.
 
Food & Sparkling Wine Pairings
 
Carra Pulcinellapros Prosecco Frizzante, Italy, Brut, non-vintage, $14.99
Glera is the grape in this light-bodied and fruity bubbly from Italy.  Frizzante wines have small bubbles and are considered to be slightly less effervescent than Champagne.  
Served with Chocolate and Cinnamon Flatbread with Orange Marmalade
 
Santa Julia Organic Rosé, Argentina, Brut, non-vintage, $12.99
Made from 100% pinot noir from one of the highest vineyard sites in Argentina, Tupungato, this sparkling wine offers up generous fruit flavors of cherries and strawberries which are supported by crisp acidity and a creamy palate.
Served with Buttermilk and Blueberry Panna Cotta
 
Dibon Brut Reserva Cava Penedes, Spain, Brut, non-vintage, $10.99
A “Best Buy” with 88 points from the Wine Enthusiast.  The nose offers notes of brioche, while the palate has baked apple and citrus flavors.  This is a traditional blend of indigenous grapes  Xarel-lo, Parellada and Macabeo.  A solid sparkler that over delivers for the price.
Served with Twice-smoked Lardon and Corn Beignets
 
Simonet Vin Mousseux, Alsace, France, Brut, non-vintage, $9.99
A French wine produced in the Alsace region by Caves de Wissembourg, a well-respected winemaker who has been recognized for his prize-winning sparklers that are distributed throughout Europe. This is a Blanc de Blancs made only from chardonnay grapes.
Served with White Chocolate, Toasted Rice and Fennel Feuilletine
 
Ridgeview Bloomsbury, England, Brut, 2013, $36.99
The Bloomsbury is chardonnay dominant, supported by the fullness of pinot noir and pinot meunier. The light golden wine has a persistent mousse with fruit aromas of melon and honey. The wine can age for three to four years. Noted wine critic and writer Jancis Robinson said, “England’s vinous glory: fizz made in the image of Champagne.” A limited quantity of the Ridgeview Bloomsbury is available for tasting.
Served with Rock Barn Cider Brats, Caraway Onions and Grain Mustard

Joyce

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English Bubbly Arrives In Virginia

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English Bubbly Arrives In Virginia

Since early December when Champagne producer Taittinger announced that they'd purchased vineyard land in Kent, England, the press has been writing about English sparkling wine and the wine world has been talking about its improved quality. The wines offer exceptional quality and value for their price.

The Champagne region in France is located near the northern limits of the wine world along the 49th parallel. The cool climate region makes it difficult for the grapes to ripen, but serves to produce high levels of acidity which is perfect for sparkling wine.  The chalky soil is ideal as it absorbs water during winter and gives it back to the vine's roots during summer. 

The southeastern region of Sussex, England has chalk beds and it is there that you find the famous White Cliffs of Dover.  Although this is the warmest part of England, it is cooler than the Champagne region.  A succession of warm summers that have allowed the grapes to ripen has significantly contributed to the quality of the sparkling wines. The numerous international awards in recent years reflect the improvement in quality and global attention.

Ridgeview, Nvetimber and Coates & Seely have been crafting traditional Method Champenoise (second fermentation in the bottle to create fine pinpoint bubbles) sparkling wine for decades. However, the English bubblies are just now beginning to reach our market.

Ridgeview just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They make six sparkling wines using the traditional Champagne grapes. Three of the cuvées are now available through distributor Siema Wines.  Almost all of the initial allotment in September 2015 was sold to British Airways for its lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport. A second shipment arrived in December, but it is already sold out. A third shipment is due to arrive in mid-February.

Ivy Provisions was able to procure a case before it was all sold!  The Bloomsbury Brut cuvée includes all three of the traditional Champagne grapes: Chardonnay is the base and is filled out with pinot noir and pinot meunier. You’ll have an opportunity to taste it, along with other sparkling wines, at our special Valentine’s Day tasting on February 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.  

I have two bottles at home waiting to be savored and shared next month when we will travel to New Jersey. We will visit with our granddaughter, Savannah, who was born on Christmas Day, and her other set of grandparents, who are English. We’ll toast to the little one and to our expanded family. The Ridgeway Bloomsbury Brut, 2013, will be a very fitting choice. 

If that is not enough of an endorsement for you to purchase a bottle for $36.99 the wines have been royally received and we’re pretty certain that if the Queen approves, you will too!

For more information, www.ridgeview.co.uk.

Joyce

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