In This Issue
Wine and Cheese: The Classic Pairings
The Cutting Edge: How To Cut a Cigar
Drink Recipe: April Rain
Apr 8: Versailles Easter Buffet at Chateau Elan, Braselton
Apr 14: Wine & Roses Gala at the Atlanta Athletic Club
Apr 14: Hamilton Mill Spring Wine Festival, Dacula
Apr 16 - May 21: Introduction to Wine at the Atlanta Wine School
Apr 17: Banfi Wine Dinner at the Epicurean Restaurant, Decatur
Apr 19: Atlanta Taste for Life 5th Annual Wine Tasting, Duluth
Apr 21: Atlanta Beer Meetup at Summits Wayside Tavern, Cumming
Apr 22: Atlanta Wine School: "World of Reds," Midtown
Apr 28: Atlanta Wine Club North Georgia Wine Country Tour
May 2: "Reserve Wine with Friends" at the Atlanta Wine School
May 5: Augusta Wine Festival
Imperia is Russia's leading ultra-premium vodka and the flagship product of Russian Standard Vodka, Russia's leading line of premium vodka. Imperia sets a new standard for quality. It is distinguished by extraordinary smoothness and the fewest amount of impurities among the top shelf vodkas. Distilled in St. Petersburg, Russia, Imperia is made with winter wheat, blended with glacial water that is distilled eight times and filtered through quartz. Vodka is Russian. And Imperia truly is the number one luxury vodka to taste and enjoy!
Wine Club Selections
Chateau Haut-La Pereyre 2003 Bordeaux
All too often, many of us looking for affordable red wine rule out Bordeaux. We seem to identify this region with labels like Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, or Haut Brion that go for hundreds of dollars a bottle. But there are lots of affordable red Bordeauxs, and Chateau Haut-La Pereyre is a great example.
Ruby in color, this wine has good legs and a pretty, sweet nose of burnt sugar and cassis. Light to medium bodied and dry, it has supple tannins and tart, red-cherry flavors which linger. It’s nicely structured with good acidity. It finishes nicely, with flavors that are consistent with the initial burnt sugar and cassis. A simple, classic Bordeaux.
Winery: Chateau Haut-La Pereyre
Ferrari Carano 2004 Merlot
Select lots of grapes were chosen from Ferrari Carano's vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek, Russian River and Napa/Carneros to create this beautifully balanced and full-bodied 2004 Merlot. A multidimensional, velvety wine with a dark ruby color and complex nose of ripe cherry, blackberry, and exotic notes of licorice and cedar, this year’s Merlot is accented by intricately woven flavors of boysenberry, currant fruit and dark chocolate, with caramel lingering on the silky finish. Given proper cellaring, this wine will continue to provide drinking enjoyment to 2013.
The easy drinking qualities of this Merlot make it a great wine to match with many food dishes. It goes extremely well with any red meat course, game, or Italian entrees. Sheep's milk cheeses also pair well with this wine.
Blend: 93% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot
Appellation: Sonoma County
Winery: Ferrari Carano
Domaine de la Fruitiere 2005 Muscadet Cuvee Petit M
Located in the western Loire Valley, Domaine de la Fruitiere's hilltop vineyard is described as "25-50 year-old vines planted in soil rich with granite, mica, and schist." The composition is 100% melon de Bourgogne. Melon, lemongrass and green apple aromas lead into a tart minerally palate and nice mouthful crisp finish. An extraordinary palate cleanser or compliment for seafood. "True gold," according to Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer's International.
Winery: Domaine de la Fruitiere
Style: White Wine
Varietal: other white varietal
Rating: 88 pts. Stephen Tanzer's International
For the "Top Cigar," the name says it all. The cigar is made from Cuban seed tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic which is then rolled by Cuban exiles in Miami with at least 20 years of rolling experience. All of this for just $5.99!
Editor’s Note: Gone Drinkin’
Despite the occassional bout of unexpected cold weather, Spring typically is a great season for entertaining. Blooming trees and flowers (coupled with fewer of those nasty bugs) make Spring an ideal time to invite friends and neighbors to share a bottle of wine.
In this issue, our spirited consultant Robert Thomas offers some suggestions for pulling off a successful event with some succulent couplings of wine and cheese. These classic pairings are ideal for an appetizer, desert or snack to offer both invited and unexpected visitors.
Spring is also an ideal time to try a new cigar. With the advent of the spring season, the new growth brings along newcomers to the business with aspirations of producing the next “great smoke.”
As such, our featured cigar this month is from a newcomer in Miami with origins from Havana. Aptly named “Top Cigar,” the name says it all. The cigar is made from Cuban seed tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic which is rolled by Cuban exiles in Miami with at least 20 years of rolling experience. All of this for just $5.99!
In this issue, we also offer some advice for how to cut the cigar. After all, a neat, clean cut is an essential component of an enjoyable smoke.
As usual, you will find a coupon for an additional discount at the end of this newsletter. And once again, thank-you for subscribing to the Vintage Voice. We hope that you continue to find the newsletter informative and that you will come visit us in the near future.
Wine and Cheese: The Classic Pairings
Wine and cheese share a natural affinity, and a nice cheese plate served with a glass or two off wine makes for a great offering while entertaining.
Pairing wines with cheese can be a simple proposition if you follow a few basic rules.
The following are some classic rules — suggestions, really — to help create the ideal culinary experience.
The Classic Cheese Plate
If serving a cheese plate, then versatile fruity wines such as a Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Rose, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, or Merlot will offer the best compliment.
These fruity wines also work best with sharp cheeses. Fruity reds like Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, or Chiantis are great with Manchego cheese or other hard or semi-soft sheep’s milk cheeses.
For whites, a classic combination is goat cheese with a zippy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or French Sancerre. The fruitiness and crispness of the wine can stand up to the tartness of the goat cheese.
Aged dry cheeses need a more tannic wine. Pecorino, Parmigiano, Dry Jack, etc. are great with Cabernet Sauvignon, dry Italian reds like Barolo and Brunello, or a full bodied white like a Chardonnay. The tannins and oak in these wines play off of the nutty flavors of the cheeses.
Creamy cheeses are best with a zippy wine. A Brie or Camembert will stand up well to an acidic wine — especially one that is slightly off dry like a Pinot Blanc, Riesling, or Gewürztraminer. As long as the cheese isn’t very ripe and sharp, these wines will amplify the flavors of the mild cheese.
Ripe Soft Cheeses
For riper soft cheeses, consider a sparkling wine to cut through the heavy flavors or an even sweeter wine like a late harvest Riesling or Muscat. Another great pairing for soft — especially washed rind — cheeses is Belgian Ale, particularly one of the Trappist ales. These monasteries make their own cheeses that are delicious compliments to their beer.
For a really pungent cheese — blue cheese — there is only one really successful pairing: a sweet fortified dessert wine such as port, sweet sherry, or Madeira. One of the classic dessert cheese courses is a nice wedge of Stilton blue from England with a Port, or Roquefort from France with Sauternes.
You want a sweet, strong wine to stand up to the strong flavors of the blue. The marriage off the two flavors of Blue and Port is an incredible combination that simply must be tried to be believed.
Whatever you do, don’t stress over making the “right” compliments. Try different things until you find what you like. These are just some suggestions for some combinations you may not have tried. The right pairing is the one that you find enjoyable.
The Cutting Edge: How To Cut a Cigar
The right cut can be a critical component of an enjoyable cigar. A clean cut lessens the risk of the cigar unraveling, thus avoiding a sloppy mess and wasted smoke.
Cutting the cigar correctly will also result in a better overall taste by helping manage the so-called “draw,” or the ease by which the cigar can be smoked.
The first key to a good cut is to ensure that the filler is exposed. To ensure a clean cut and avoid tearing the wrapper, the best cut is just above the cap.
The cap is a round piece of tobacco that typically is glued to the head (the mouth end) to keep the wrapper together. This cap is placed on the head of the cigar during the hand-rolling process to keep it from unraveling and drying out. There is a distinct line where the cap ends.
Types of Cutters
Single Blade Guillotine
Pro: Very affordable and will cut cigars up to 54 ring gauges.
Con: Requires cutting the cigar in one, quick motion.
Double Blade Guillotine
Pro: Cuts just about any cigar.
Con: More expensive than a single blade, but not necessarily any more effective.
Pro: Creates sufficient surface area without exposing the tongue to loose tobacco.
Con: Will not work will with the larger gauges. In addition, the draw can be too good, making the cigar smoke too hot.
Pro: Will ensure a swift, clean cut.
Con: Can be very expensive and will potentially crush the ends, destroying the cigar’s integrity, if not made of good quality stainless steel.
Pro: Convenient and easy to use.
Con: Will not work on Figurados and larger ring cigars.
A good measure is about 3 to 4 mm beyond the cap for the majority of cigar sizes, although smaller cigars will require a smaller margin. A cut anywhere nearer to the cap or lower will risk tearing the wrapper.
Be Quick and Nimble
A quick, strong movement is another essential element. Cutting quickly will reduce the chances of unraveling the outer layer. Obviously, a sharp blade is also important to a clean cut.
Therefore, setting a mark and using a quality cutter are distinct advantages for a clean and even cut.
No Magic Bullet
Bullet punch cutters rapidly are becoming the most popular option due to the fact that they can be placed on a key ring. But they unfortunately will not work on irregularly shaped cigars (Figurados), and they are also not designed to work on the larger gages.
Other cigar cutters include guillotines, scissors, twist punch cutters and V cutters. The most effective of those is the guillotine, which cuts a straight slice across the cigar to provide an even draw.
Don’t let the name fool you. While some guillotines are fashioned to look like their more grizzly namesakes, the majority are flat, handheld assemblies like the one pictured at the top of this article.
Guillotines come in two forms: the single blade and double blade. Both are effective, but the single blade requires a slightly more confident hand.
Overall, cutting a cigar is a simple proposition if using the right tools. The important thing to remember is that a clean cut will reduce the chances of an unraveled, unnerving lost smoke; leaving you to enjoy your cigar to its fullest.
Recipe: April Rain
The classic Martini brings up visions of smoky parlors and dark jazz clubs. But this citrus twist on the original is a refreshing celebration of Spring.
2 oz premium vodka
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz vermouth
lime peel or slice for garnish
Pour the vodka, vermouth and lime juice over ice in cocktail shaker and shake well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime peel or slice.