Decatur Wine and Spirits The Vintage Voice

Volume 2, Issue 1 — January, 2007


In This Issue
Editor's Note

Hollywood and Vine
To Smoke It or Not
Feeatured Products

Drink Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum

Upcoming Events
Jan 8–Mar 26: Introduction to Wine Parts 1 and 2 at the Atlanta Wine School
Jan 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Jan 17: Big Reds wine tasting at Woodfire Grill
Jan 26: Bargain Buster Wines tasting at Cocktail Hour

Featured Product
Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka
Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka is created from two common Northwest flavors: fresh-brewed coffee and hazelnuts. But unlike most flavored vodkas, the coffee and hazelnut in Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso are rich and strong, making for more of a liqueur than a vodka. The vodka is best served chilled over ice and can be used as a unique alternative to Kahlua, Bailey's or Frangelico. It can also be mixed over ice with cream and a shot of espresso and served as an iced latte.

Reading Between the Lines
Here are some quick tips for reading a wine label:

Alcohol content is given in percentages. The higher the percentage, the fuller bodied the wine will be.

"Produced and Bottled" means that at lest 75% of the wine was fermented by the winery on the label.

If a grape variety is on the label, then at least 75% of the wine must contain that grape.

If the wine bears a date, then at least 95% of the grapes must have been harvested that year.

If the wine is designated as California, Washington or any other state; then 100% of the grapes must be grown in that state.

If the wine designates a micro area or region, then 85% of the grapes must come from that region.

Wine Club Selections
Marquis Philips Cabernet Sauvignon
Marquis Philips began as a collaboration aimed at controlling the entire wine-making process from concept to vineyard and price. The wines are dark, ripe, sweet and loud, or bursting with flavor. The 2005 cabernet received a 90 rating from Robert Paker, a professional wine taster, and it serves as a perfect example of a full bodied, or concentrated, wine with strong hints of fruit (primarily blackberry) and cedar.
Country: Australia
Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
Year: 2005
Alcohol content: 14.9%
Serve with: Steak and other heavy foods
Regular Price: $17.99
Coupon Price: $16.35

A to Z Pinot Noir
A to Z is a partnership of two winemaking families. Founded just three years ago, the label already has earned Food & Wine Magazine's award for best Pinot Noir under $20. The wine is blended from a variety of Oregon estates to have a broader consumer appeal. But the wine remains complex enough to satisfy even more discerning individuals. A very aromatic wine with evident "tannic," or earthy flavors, the A to Z pinot noir is a good example of a wine that was tailored to be combined with food.
State: Oregon
Variety: Pinot Noir
Year: 2005
Alcohol content: 13.5%
Regular Price: $18.99
Coupon Price: $17.26

Mud House Un-wooded Chardonnay
Mud House is relatively new New Zealand winery that is experimenting with new wine making techniques. This is the first year Mud House has released an un-wooded style of Chardonnay. The result is a fresh wine oozing with peaches and cream, stone fruit and a hint of spice. As a result, this wine can be enjoyed with or without food. It also won a Silver Medal at the 2005 New Zealand wine show and it is sure to bring home a few more accolades as time goes by.
Country: New Zealand
Region: Marlborough
Variety: Chardonnay
Year: 2002
Alcohol content: 12.5%
Regular Price: $11.99
Coupon Price: $10.90

Club Cigar
Rocky Patel Vintage Series 1992
Rockey Patel is one of the newer cigar makers on the market. This cigar features a 10 year old Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper along with the 5 year old filler and binder for a perfect compliment of strength and complexity. It received a 90 point rating by Cigar Aficinado. A very enticing smoke with bold flavors of coffee and cedar, this cigar is perfect for the seasoned smoker who is in pursuit of a rare vintage smoke.
Style: Torpedo (6.25 x 52)
Color: Natural
Regular Price: $7.99
Coupon Price for 3 or more: $7.26


Editor’s Note
Happy New Year and thank you for subscribing to Decatur Wine & Spirits'
monthly newsletter "The Vintage Voice."

A new year typically heralds change. But in the world of wine, some things stay consistent year over year, such as the California "jug wines."

Are these wines worth buying? This issue provides some helpful hints for
selecting a CA wine and tips for reading the wine label.

For instance, did you know that the weight of a wine is directly related to the alcohol content? The higher the alcohol content the weightier the wine.

Please also check out our new featured products and wine club selections. You will find the monthly coupon for the wine club selections at the end of
the newsletter.

Once again, thank you for subscribing to the "Vintage Voice" and have a happy new year!

Hollywood and Vine: Selecting A California Wine
Choosing a California wine can be a daunting task. Although California began producing wine only about 40 years ago, there are more than 1,600 wineries in the state today, making wines ranging from Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck" for $1.99 (or $2.99 in Georgia) to Harlan Estate's reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for more than $500.

But you can't necessarily equate quality with price. As in any other market, supply and demand determine the price tag.

As such, how is it possible to select a good California wine?

It's All on the Label
California produces a great variety of wine due to the state's different climates. But the label basically tells you everything you need to know about the wine.

The most important information is the producer's name. If an individual vineyard is noted on the label, 95% of the grapes must come from the named vineyard. If the label also specifies a specific region such as "Napa Valley," then 85% of the grapes must also be from that vineyard's specific "micro-climate."

The inexperienced buyer should look for older, more established vineyards in well-known "micro-climates" such as Napa, Sonoma, Anderson or Stag's Leap.

Older, more established wineries are able to provide better pricing because they amortized their investment a long time ago and as a result, they are able to more easily discount their prices when the supply/demand ratio is favorable.

Fun Facts about
California Vineyards

In 1970, the average price for vineyard land in Napa was $5,000 per acre. In 2002, Francis Ford Coppola, owner of the Niebaum-Coppola Vineyard, paid $350,000 an acre.

Napa Valley produces less than 7% of California wines. The largest wine producing region is the San Joaquin Valley, where the jug wines are made.

In 2002, more than 15 million people visisted California vineyards, making the vineyards the second most popular California destination after Disneyland.

A great example is the Robert Mondavi label. Mondavi left his family's Charles Krug Winery in 1966 and became the first major winemaker in California to produce higher quality wines.

The typical Robert Mondavi wine retails from $15.99 to $17.99, depending upon the grape variety.

Other pioneers of the California renaissance include Warren Winiarski, a college professor that started the Stag's Leap label and David Stare, a civil engineer that started the Dry Creek label.

Pitcher's Choice
Of course, you could also step it down a notch and purchase a higher volume, discount wine such as the Fetzer and Woodbridge jug wines.

The phrase "jug wine" simply refers to an uncomplicated, everyday drinking wine. These wines originally were bottled in jugs rather than bottles. They account for the largest volume of wine sold in the U.S.

While the jug wines may not be the best wine on the market, California jug wines maintain their consistency and quality year to year. Therefore, the jug wines are a good option if you can find a wine that appeals to your taste.

The Other Side of The Scale
On the other side of the scale are the smaller investor/growers more focused on producing quality wines. Some are indeed spectacular wines.

But because there are so many variables, it is best to rely on professional help. This help is available from professional rating organizations such as Wine Spectator.

A good wine shop will also have a number of shelf talkers to help guide your selections.

The bottom line is that California wines can be a great value if you know what you are choosing. The quality is good and the prices are better. The key is to either make a informed selection or if unsure, choose a wine from an established vineyard.

To Smoke It or Not
Collecting cigars can be an expensive proposition. But with the proper care, collecting them can also be an enduring investment.

Still, spoilage can occur. Unless you know the difference between a spoiled cigar and one that can be rescued, you might be discarding an otherwise good cigar.

How do you know if a cigar is spoiled?

  Wine Cellar
A desk humidor will help maintain
your cigars at optimal humidity.

Don't Sweat the White Spots
At times, a fine white powder will form on the wrapper of the cigar during the aging process. This powder is a bloom, and it is caused by the oils that exude from the tobacco.

The bloom simply indicates that the cigar is alive and maturing. It is harmless and can be gently brushed off, although there is no need.

Unlike bloom, mold is bluish-green and stains the wrapper. The presence of mold indicates that the humidor is too warm or has excessive levels of humidity.

A moldy cigar should not be smoked.

Dry But Not Gone
Dried out cigars represent the polar opposite to moldy cigars. But unlike a moldy cigar, there is still hope for a dried out cigar.

To restore dired cigars, remove them from their tubes or wrappers and place them into a sealed ziplock bag. Pierce the bag with many holes and then place the bag containing the cigars into a second, larger ziplock bag along with a sponge moistened with distilled water.

Every few days, rotate the cigars so that each side is exposed to the humidity. Repeat this process for a month.

Once the cigars have regained their normal sponginess, they can be returned to a humidor. But the cigars should remain there for another 9-12 months to allow the tobacco reach its equilibrium.

As with any organic item, a cigar will succumb to the elements if not properly handled. But with the proper maintenance, a cigar collection can also be an enduring investment.

Recipe: Hot Buttered Rum
Take a bit of the nip out of January with this cozy recipe. Serve at small gatherings, or just sip whenever you need some cheer.

1 oz. light rum
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. melted butter
4 cloves

Mix sugar, butter, cloves and rum into a coffe mug and stir. "Fill" mug with hot water and stir again.

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