Decatur Wine and Spirits The Vintage Voice

Volume 1, Issue 1 — December 3, 2006


In This Issue
Editor's Note

Holiday Libations
Out of the Box
New at the Store

Drink Recipe: Glögg

CristalNew at the Store
1999 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut
95 Wine Enthusiast
"A powerful Cristal, which has all the richness of the 1999 vintage. The aromas of white flowers and cocoa lead to a palate that is rich, intense, concentrated, but restrained. It is already drinkable, but should mature well."

Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Rose NV (17.99)
89 Wine Enthusiast
"It's complex and inviting, with bread dough, raspberry and vanilla, and a touch of smoky honey. The flavors are similar, with white peaches making an appearance. Medium-weight with a slightly creamy mouthful, it closes with creamy-toast flavors on the long finish. This sparkling wine will have wide appeal: It's big, open and enjoyable."
-From Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, one of California's best kept secrets for great wine.

Roederer Estate L'Ermitage Anderson Valley 1999 (33.99)
94 Wine Enthusiast
"Extraordinarily fine for its smoothness and finesse, and the way the wine glides over the palate with a yeasty creaminess that turns smoky and spicy on the finish. The dosage stands out, yet this bubbly is also very acidic now. It should age well for at least 10 years."
From the same people that brought us Cristal—but at a much nicer price. This is their top California sparkling wine.

Upcoming Events
Dec 9, 16: Tiger Mountain Vineyards "Soup and Shopping" pairings tasting
Dec 10, 17: Wolf Mountain Vineyards Holiday Open House
Dec 16: Walk and Wine Tour at the Village of Stone Mountain
Dec 22: Crane Creek Vineyards Winter Solstice Celebration
Dec 24: We're open all day
Dec 25: Merry Christmas! (Store closed)
Dec 31: Do you have your bubbly?
Jan 1: Happy New Year! (Store closed)
Jan 3: "Introduction to Wine" class begins at the Atlanta Wine School

Cocktail Party Checklist
Helping your guests get into the holiday spirit may have a lot to do with what you stock. Here are key tips for the right garnishes and the perfect glassware…

Primary Spirits
The must-haves are:
Bourbon and/or blended whiskey

The next level would include:
Brandy and/or Cognac
Coffee flavored liqueur
Crème de Menthe
Crème de Cacao
Grand Marnier®

The Right Amount
Party planners suggest one drink per person an hour based on the typical 1.5 ounces of liquor. A regular 750 ml bottle yields about 16 cocktails. A bottle of wine serves about five glasses. Garnishes
A garnish is what distinguishes a cocktail from a mere drink.

Special Twist
Common garnishes include:
Lime wedges
Lemon wedges
Lemon twists
Adding cherries, olives, orange twists, and onions will also give you a full repertoire.

The standards include:
orange juice
You might also consider Triple Sec for margaritas and bitters or blended mixers such as sour mix.

Glasses are not only one of the keys to a fabulous holiday bar, they can be a fashion statement as well.
A well-stocked bar has:
Champagne flutes
Wine glasses,
Martini glasses
Highball glasses
And old-fashioned glasses for on-the-rocks drinks.

Don't Forget
Remember, it is just as important to serve food whenever you serve alcohol. And more importantly, the party is almost always more fun when everything is enjoyed in moderation, especially the spirits.

Featured Products
Hogshead Vatted Malt Scotch (32.99)
Vatted Malts are the new thing in scotch—they are blended whiskies, but only from single malts, and only from a few different distilleries at most. This delightful blend from Signatory is a combination of Linkwood single malt from the highlands, and Laphroaig of Islay- and nothing else. The distinctive peatiness of the Islay whisky shines through, but with the restraint of the highlands.

Desert Juniper Gin (26.99)
An utterly unique American gin that has an especially fine juniper flavor. This gin is made in small batches by an artisinal distiller in Oregon. Unbelievably, he gathers his own wild juniper from the Oregon desert for his gin. Difficult to find, and a must try for gin lovers!

Maison Prunier VSOP Cognac (22.99)
A fabulous cognac at a great price from one of the last remaining independent cognac houses in France. This family made cognac uses a blend from the top crus of Grandes Champagnes and Fin Bois and then is double distilled in old alambic stills and aged in Limousin oak casks. Full-bodied and balanced, this cognac is a bargain.

Bruichladdich Single Malt 10 Yr old (51.99)
A wonderful Islay whisky that combines a fruity forward flavor with a subtle smoky finish. Non chill filtered, and with no additional coloring added, this whisky is a delicate golden color. One of Islay's best kept secrets. For a limited time this scotch is available packaged with a nicely shaped glass.

Dartigalongue Bas Armagnac XO (44.99)
Armagnac is one of the three great brandies of France (the others being Cognac and Calvados). Like Cognac, Armagnac is made from grapes, but with richer tasting varietals grown in Gascony. Armagnac has more fullness and a more savory character than many cognacs. This one is a standout, and a fantastic price for an XO. This is a blend of brandies all at least 10 years of age produced by the oldest house in Armagnac, still independent and family owned.

Wine Club Selections
Paringa Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia 2003 (12.99)
88 Wine Spectator - Best Value
"Ripe in flavor, rich in texture, with minty blackberry and currant mixing
with sweet, spicy oak on the lengthy finish. Drink now through 2006."

-It's rare to find this quality Cabernet for this price. Perfect wine to serve
with a steak- but inexpensive enough to have with burgers.

Greg Norman Estates Chardonnay Victoria 2003 (13.99)
89 Wine Spectator - Smart Buy
"Distinctive for its tangy lime and grapefruit notes, fleshed out with touches of pear and white pepper as the flavors linger generously. Drink now through 2010."
Year in and year out the champion golfer Greg Norman now makes champion wines. Always one of the best values around.

M. Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone Belleruche 2004 (12.99)
89 Wine Spectator - Best Value
"Nice pebbly, minerally undertow in this red, with blackberry and red currant
fruit followed by tar and floral notes. Well-structured finish. Drink now through 2007."

M. Chapoutier is known for their high-end Cote du Rhones. This is their beautiful entry level wine.

Columbia Crest Merlot Columbia Valley Grand Estates 2003 (10.99)
90 Wine Spectator
"Supple, ripe and seductive, a plush wine with gorgeous plum, blackberry, currant and hints of exotic spice swirling through the round, generous finish. Drink now through 2010."

Quinta de Roriz Douro Prazo 2004 (16.99)
90 Wine Spectator
"Beautiful aroma of crushed red fruits with loads of ripe plum, cassis and smoke flavors. Well-balanced, with plenty of structure as well. Long finish of white pepper and mineral. Drink now through 2010. 1,000 cases made."

St. Urbans-Hoff Riesling Kabinett Okfener Bockstein 2005 (12.99)
An absolutely brilliant wine at an astonishing price. World class German Riesling is almost never available at this price point, but this wine fits the bill. Juicy, crisp, delicate, a little sweet, and racy, this is the perfect holiday food wine, or just to have by the glass after work. The little brother to this wine made the Wine Spectator list of top 100 wines of the world last year (this years hasn't been rated yet), and this is the more expensive and finer version- which we are selling for the same price! Even better than last year, this wine is a real treat.

Holiday Beers
Anchor Christmas "Our Special Ale" (10.49)
This is the 32nd year that Anchor brewing has made this delicious Christmas brew. A dark brown ale with notes of spruce, nutmeg, and cinnamon, along with some hops, this beer is like no other. This year Anchor only shipped 350 cases for the entire Atlanta area. Get some before it is gone!

Sweetwater Festive (9.49)
Maybe Sweetwater's best beer. Dark brown with porterish notes, and very dry. Spiced, but subtly so. The overall flavor comes together as an integrated whole. Chocolate malt notes, but surprisingly dry. A great Atlanta tradition. Limited supply of wax-capped 750's as well.

Sierra Nevada Celebration (8.99)
Year in and year out one of the best beers produced for the winter. This year's version is the best in a while. Very balanced, hoppy, and warming. Truly delicious.

Lagunitas Brown Shugga (9.49)
From Lagunitas, the California brewing sensation new to Georgia in the last few months. At 9.9% alcohol, this beer packs a wallop! The base for this delicious brew is one of the Lagunitas barley wines to which slightly burnt brown sugar is added. The result is sweet, but not overly so- more like a burnt toffee flavor. There are also lots of malt flavors, but its all balanced by the Lagunitas trademark smack of hops. An unique and utterly delicious brew.

Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball
Coming soon!!


Editor’s Note: Welcome!
Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Vintage Voice and thank you for subscribing.

Subscribers are entitled to special discounts on featured items. You will find a coupon for those items at the end of each monthly newsletter. Subscription to the newsletter is free.

Congratulations to Beth Tedrow for winning the competition to name this newsletter.

With the holiday season upon us, this newsletter includes two articles to help you prepare for your holiday party or those unexpected guests.

In "Holiday Libations," you will find helpful suggestions for stocking a unique collection of liquors to spice up your holiday or everyday bar.

"Out of the Box" discusses the finer points of cigar selection, including how to find the right gift for even a seasoned smoker.

Each newsletter issue will also help keep you informed of new products in the store and our current specials.

  Wine Cellar
Our wine cellar is stocked for holiday entertaining.

This month's issue features several highly rated champagnes and a couple of unique single-malt Scotches perfect for staving off the approaching winter weather.

We welcome your comments on our articles and we gladly will accept both free-lance submissions as well as suggestions for future articles.

Comments and suggestions can be sent to

In the future, we also plan to provide an on-line forum for discussion and comments.

Once again, thank you for subscribing to The Vintage Voice and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Holiday Libations
The winter season is filled with holidays that allow families and friends spend more time together and celebrate. An important part of these celebrations are the drinks.

  Brown Shugga
Sweet and cheery Brown Shugga' seasonal beer from Lagunitas.

But choosing an appropriate wine or cocktail should not be an afterthought in that a great selection will help make your celebration unforgettable. It therefore makes sense to splurge a little and drink something nicer.

For instance, while you may want to have one of the standard lagers, why not pick up a christmas beer instead? Many craft brewers make seasonal brews that are a little stronger, richer, and subtly spiced. These beers are complex enough to stand up to hors d'oeuvres or to enjoy on their own. Some great ones are Anchor Christmas, Sierra Celebration, Lagunitas Brown Shugga, and Sweetwaters holiday ale.

A classic cocktail before dinner is another popular option. One suggestion is the traditional martini. Try the original gin used in the martini, Plymouth, or if Vodka is more your thing, try a handmade vodka from the U.S. such as Hangar 1 from California, or Titos from Texas.

With the weather getting colder, more people are also turning to the brown liquors. A good bourbon on the rocks or a lighter single malt scotch can be a great aperitif. Lighter Islay scotches or a highland scotch would be especially perfect to whet the appetite. A few great choices include Aberlour, Bruichladdich, Lismore, or Balvenie. All are fruity and light enough not to overwhelm the palate before dinner.

A signature cocktail is another way to spice up the party. An easy one is the perfect Manhattan. The drink includes two parts bourbon or rye to one part dry vermouth and one part sweet vermouth served shaken in a cocktail glass with a cherry.

A glass of dry white wine can also be a delicious aperitif. Have a bottle of sauvignon blanc or chardonnay in the fridge, or try something more unusual like a fruity Albarino from Spain or a crisp Gruner Veltliner from Austria. Inexpensive varieties of each are available that are very nice.

For dinner itself, you'll want to serve wine. What to pick depends upon what you are serving. But you should take into consideration not just the main course, but also all the traditional side dishes. Many of the sweet, spiced, or strongly flavored dishes will otherwise overwhelm a delicate wine or make a structured red seem too bitter.

For a red, look to a Pinot Noir, a shiraz, zinfandel, or a Spanish wine like a tempranillo or garnacha. These wines have a lot of fruit flavors in them that stand up to many of the holiday side dishes. Pinot Noir also goes with some main dishes that normally are served with a white wine, such as turkey. Cabernets, Malbecs, Meritages are likely to bee too tannic unless you are serving a robust cut of meat like a ribroast, steak, or game.

For a white wine, it is probably better to go with something a slightly off dry. Great choices include Riesling, Gewurtztramineer and Albarino. These wines are perfect with turkey or a pork roast.

Another option is a brut or extra dry champagne/sparkling wine. Especially nice is a decent Rose sparkler. The extra flavors it has are beautiful accompaniments to many meats.

After dinner, it is always nice to serve dessert followed by a coffee and a digestif. For dessert, almost all wines will be overwhelmed except for fortified wines like port.

A port, sweet sherry, or ice wine would be perfect. A vintage style port of late bottled vintage won't break the bank and is still a wonderful finisher on its own.

A sweet sherry like an Oloroso or Pedro Ximenez could be a dessert all its own.

Ice wine, made from the nectar pressed from grapes frozen on the vine, is particularly sweet and honey-tasting but with enough acidity to cut through the sugar and make it refreshing.

For the digestif, nothing beats great brandy or old single malt scotch. Choose one of the great brandies of France (Cognac, Armagnac, or Calvados), or a fine alembic brandy made in the U.S.

If you are serving coffee at the end of the meal, you might consider an orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Couintreau. Baily's, Frangelico, Amaretto and coffee liqueurs like Kahlua or Starbucks are other good choices.

For New Year's Eve, obviously the drink of choice is champagne. Real champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, and the pinnacle is Cristal, made by Louis Roederer. The 1999 Cristal (the one out now) is the best in recent memory.

Other champagnes that are great but are a little less regal include Veuve Clicquot, Pommerey, and Moet.

A great alternative to French champagne is sparking wine. Two especially good ones are Roederer estate and its premium expression, L' Ermitage. Bottled by the makers of Cristal, these wines are well priced and will knock your socks off with their flavor and finesse.

Cheaper alternatives include a Spanish Cava, an Italian Prosecco or Spumante (a little sweeter), or a nice Washington State sparkler like Domaine Ste. Michelle.

When choosing a sparkling wine, one thing to keep in mind is the sweetness level. Champagnes and other sparklers are graded from dry to sweet with the driest being Brut, followed by Extra Dry, then Demi-sec, and finally syrupy sweet Sec. Buy according to your preference.

If you spend a little time paying attention to your holiday libations, you can really make the seasonal gatherings and feasts more impressive and delightful. Happy holidays and cheers!

Out of The Box
Don't know what to give the man or woman that seems to have everything? Try thinking both inside and outside the box.

A good cigar makes a wonderful gift that many people truly would enjoy. But when it comes to choosing a gift for someone else, a different criteria for making selections is in order.

Brand names become more important in that the individual receiving the gift might not have the same tastes as the giver.

A quality sampler pack such as the Torino makes a splendid gift for anyone who enjoys cigars.

With that in mind, here are some great cigar gift ideas for both new and veteran cigar smokers.

The Gift of Cigars
Newer cigar smokers should be trying a variety of different cigars to help them discover the flavors they truly enjoy.

Therefore, cigar sampler packs containing several different brands and/or sizes of cigars undoubtedly would be greatly appreciated. Sampler packs usually come in quantities of five cigars and up.

But if you would like to splurge on a box of premium smokes for someone special, stick to a couple of top brands that are mild to medium in flavor.

Macanudo is the top selling cigar in the U.S., and is made by the second largest cigar company in the world, Swedish Match. Montecristo is another widely recognized premium brand. These cigars are made by the largest cigar company in the world, Altadis.

Both of these brands are well known and respected in the world of cigars, and the new cigar smoker will never look out of place while smoking one of these.

Of course, if you know the favorite brand of a seasoned cigar smoker, stick to that brand to give as a gift.

Gifts for the Seasoned Smoker
Every aspiring and seasoned cigar connoisseur also needs a humidor, cigar cutter, and windproof butane torch lighter.

In addition, a book about cigars would also make a fine gift for the newer cigar smoker.

Gifts for the seasoned cigar smokers who already have many of these items could include cigar tubes, travel cases, and portable travel humidors.

Other accessories that may also be appropriate include ashtrays, special cigar breath cleansers, humidification devices, digital hygrometers, and even cigar apparel.

The Right Drink
Either way, it is important to compliment the cigar with a good drink.

Traditional selections include cognac, scotch and rum. Non-alcoholic drinks such as coffee can also be a great compliment.

With the old year almost over, what better way to kiss it goodbye than with a premium hand rolled cigar?

A good cigar is more than just an enjoyable experience. It will also help fire up the holidays!

Recipe: Glögg (Swedish Mulled Wine)
Nothing brings out the cozy in a cold holiday evening like mulled wine. Glögg, pronounced "gloog," infuses ample spices into rich wines, making a beverage that can add warmth to the coldest northern night.

As with chili or beer, there is no one set recipe for Glögg. You should feel free to substitute and experiment as you please. In place of brandy, the original Swedish recipe uses aquavit, a distilled spirit flavored with caraway seeds. Some people try vodka or whisky, though a wine-derivtive like brandy lends a rounder flavor.

Most recipes include cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, almonds, and dried fruits like raisins, dried cherries, or figs. Sugar content can be varied too and/or you can try honey. Err on the low side with the sweets, and offer some extra for guests to add to taste.

Glögg can be brewed in advanced and aged, or simply consumed on the spot. The aging will bring out more flavor from the spices, but there is a lot to be said for drinking as it brews. The aroma of the cooking is half the fun, and will fill your house with amazing scents of warmth and comfort.

Swedish Glögg
Makes about a gallon
1.5 liter bottle dry red wine
1.5 liter bottle port
1 bottle brandy or aquavit
10 inches of stick cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cardamom seeds
2 dozen whole cloves
Peel of one orange
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
Garnish with the peel of another orange

Choose moderate wines and brandies; nothing too fancy, but certainly not rotgut either. Do not use an copper or aluminum pot since these metals interact chemically with the wine and brandy and impart a metallic taste. Use stainless steel or porcelain. Cardamom comes in three forms: pods, seeds, and powder. Avoid the powder. If you can only find the pods, just break them open to get the seeds.

Pour the red wine and the port into a large, covered porcelain or stainless steel pot. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, raisins, and almonds. Warm gently but do not boil, as boiling will burn off the alcohol.

In a pan, soak the sugar with half of the brandy. Warm the sugar and brandy slurry over low heat. The sugar will bubble and become a clear golden syrup of caramelized sugar. This caramelization is essential to developing complexity in the final beverage. Add the caramelized sugar to the wine mix. Cover and let it mull for an hour.

Just before serving, strain or carefully ladle to remove the spices. Ladle into mugs. Garnish it with a fresh orange peel, twisted over the mug to release the oils. Allow guests to add sugar and brandy to taste.

If you are going to age the concoction, make sure the bottle is filled as high as possible and tightly sealed. To serve later, warm it gently over a low flame or in a crockpot.

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