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Jeff’s Corner 7-20-17

“When friends come for Saturday night,
It’s nice to make up some Sangria wine,
It’s organic and it comes from the vine,
It’s also legal and it gets you so high.”

Great words, Jerry Jeff!  It’s summer, it’s humid, and it’s hot.  Some ice cold Sangria, some burgers on the grill, and some good friends sound pretty darn good right about now.

Sangria, as we know from the song, is a simple concoction of red wine, fruit, brandy, and some sort of sweetener.  The type of fruit is pretty much limited by our imagination, but oranges, lemons, limes, berries, peaches, mangos, and bananas are all good choices.  Sugar, honey, fruit nectar, and orange juice are all good sweeteners.

The origins of Sangria date back over 2000 years to Spain, when the Romans were conquering the Iberian peninsula.  Between lots of blood letting, which is a loose translation of Sangria, the Romans planted vineyards.  The wine from those vines was much safer to drink than water, dark red like blood, and mixed with fruit for sweetness.

Versions of Sangria first appeared in America not long after the revolution, but its official introduction was at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 at the Pavilion of Spain.  Jerry Jeff Walker first recorded his iconic tune on August 18, 1973, in Luckenbach on the legendary “Viva Terlingua” LP.

Here’s a really simple recipe to start with.  Be creative, add your imagination (and more fruit), fire up the Weber, and reel in your compadres.  This is about 12 servings.

2 ea lemons, limes, and oranges
2 cups brandy
3/4 cup sugar
2 bottles inexpensive red wine, or maybe our GCV Grand Rouge to make it really good
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice

Chill fruit, brandy, wine, and fruit juice
Slice the lemon, lime, and orange into thin rounds and put into a large Mr. Kool-Aid pitcher
Add brandy and sugar and chill in fridge for 2 hours to develop flavors
When ready to drink, lightly mull (crush) the fruit and add wine and fruit juice
Adjust the sweetness with more wine or sugar

Next, crank up the stereo and have some fun...

Jeff’s Corner 7-13-17

Howdy and Howdy

After hours last Saturday, I was hanging out with some cronies from work enjoying a glass of wine when the conversation turned to wine bottles, specifically why they have different shapes and colors.  I snidely told them they should read Jeff’s Corner, but then realized it had been years since I wrote about this.  So, here’s a refresher, it’s pretty cool stuff.

The answer has to do with tradition, geography, grape varieties, and a little bit of pragmatism.  First, the name of the bottle is the same as its geographic origin, and grapes indigenous to that region tend to be bottled in that shape in other parts of the world.

“Bordeaux” bottles are straight, with high, square shoulders, and are usually dark green for reds and clear for whites.  When wines were less filtered, reds from Bordeaux would throw a lot of sediment; and the crook in the shoulder would trap it, thus keeping it out of the glass if the wine was poured slowly.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Sauvignon Blanc (all Bordeaux grapes), Zinfandel, and many Italian wines are found in this shape.

“Burgundy” and “Rhone” bottles have sloped shoulders with a smooth angle, and are typically lighter green in color.  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (from Burgundy) along with Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Viognier (from the Rhone Valley) are most often found in this style.

“Alsace”, “Mosel”, and “Rhine” bottles also have sloped shoulders, but are taller and thinner than Burgundy bottles.  Rhine bottles are usually brown, while Mosel and Alsace are green.  Riesling and Gewurtztraminer are typically bottled in these.

Sparkling wine and Champagnes are always in a Burgundian bottle, but with much thicker glass and a deep indentation, called a punt, in the bottom of the bottle.  These give the bottle extra strength, allowing it to withstand the 4 atmospheres of pressure trapped in the bubbly.

So, once again, here’s even more wine history and romance to dazzle (and bore) your friends with.


Jeff’s Corner 7-6-17

Hello, Hello

Here’s hoping everyone had a great July 4th and were able to enjoy a long, relaxing weekend with friends and family.  The vineyard was super busy four days in a row, with lots of happy guests and tired staff.

Kathy and I drew the long straws and had Monday and Tuesday off, celebrating with plenty of good food and wine.  Steak and bakers Monday with the fabulous new 2015 Mosaic; a wine I think is destined for truly great things.  The 4th we had traditional hot doggies, stuffed jalapenos, Kath’s world famous medal-winning potato salad, and the new 2016 Grand Rouge.

That’s right, the new 2016 Grand Rouge, which we’re about to take a look at right now.  Grand Rouge is often our best selling wine.  It’s loyal followers are like the Dead Heads of yesteryear; “There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert” and “There is nothing like a bottle of Grand Rouge”.

So, what has led to this enormous, cultic following of our Grand Rouge (or Grand Rogue, as it’s often referred to)?  First, it’s a semi-sweet red in a world of sweet wines dominated by whites, blushes, and roses.  Second, it’s served chilled (I recommend 45-50 degrees), and many folks want their beverages cold.

Finally, it is aged in stainless steel and never sees the inside of an oak barrel.  This gives the wine a very bright, clean finish that really allows the fruit flavors of the grapes to show their stuff.  When I was a kid, Grapette was one of my favorite sodas.  I wonder why...

The 2016 is a tad sweeter (about 3.3% residual sugar) than the ’15 (2.7%).  The alcohol by volume is 13.6%, and it is close to equal parts Sangiovese and Tempranillo.  The color is a bright violet/purple and is a bit more extracted than previous vintages.

The ’16 shows delightful, straightforward aromas of violets, raspberries, cherries, and red licorice.  The fruit flavors and aromas ripen at a warmer temperature, but it needs to be cold enough to maintain a crisp finish.  It’s not very poetic, but it tastes like grape juice infused with fresh berries.  Grand Rouge is a fun wine, free from pretense.  Buy it, chill it, drink it...

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