Summer Whites & Picnic Reds

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, June 9, 2016…

It’s starting to feel like summer and it’s time for a little al fresco dining. Whether your style is a posh hamper with silver, linens, and glasses; a basket and blanket with paper and plastic; or a picnic table near a grill in one of our wonderful parks, we have some suggestions for wines to enliven the occasion.

We have two whites, a rosé, and two reds. One of our whites is organic: ERA Pinot Grigio 2014, from northeast Italy. This is a very aromatic wine, with fruit and minerality. It has a flavor profile more complex and full bodied than most Pinot Grigio, and a nice long finish. This is a wine to pour when your picnic partners have a wide variety of tastes or you’re thinking a brunch event. It pairs well with summer foods, chicken or tuna salad, and omelettes. On the racier side, try Radley & Finch Viking point Sauvignon Blanc 2015. This South African charmer contains a hefty dollop of Chenin Blanc, whose floral notes are a good complement to the citrus of Sauv Blanc. This wine goes very well with hammocks, salads, shrimp, and Mediterranean fare.

Think pink with a tickle of bubbles on the tongue and you have Seaside Cellars Vinho Verde Rosé 2015, from northern Portugal. This is a spicy, fruity, floral wine with surprising intensity, and its low alcohol makes it a good choice on a hot, humid day. Try this as an aperitif to get things going on a lively footing, or pair with spicy finger food.

My grandmother used to say, “Any color, just so it’s red,” and that’s how some people feel about wine. We’ll pour two, with a marked contrast in style. CalNaturale® Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is just the ticket for those venues where glass isn’t welcome. This wine comes in a TetraPak® in both full liter and half-liter sizes. The wine is not only delicious, it’s certified sustainable under California’s Lodi Rules. It’s full bodied with a kiss of oak and no sharp edges (having spent 19 months ageing). Pair with your favorite burger; consider adding blue cheese, whether you’re going meat or meatless. Our other red is a bit off the beaten track—Poderi Fiorini Becco Rosso Lambrusco Grasparossa 2015, a frizzante (lightly sparkling) Lambrusco-based blend best served slightly chilled. It offers red fruit and violets along with its festive bubbles, and dances to its own drummer. Partner it with a tortellini salad or grilled pizza and enjoy!

Aside from being tasty, another thing these wines share is great value, and there are many more like them on Red Feet’s shelves. The staff will be happy to direct you to an old friend or help you make a new one, red, white, or rosé. If you don’t feel like making a decision, grab a Summer Starter Demi-Sac and dig in!

- M.P. Rouse

Sauvignon Blanc from Around the World

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, June 16, 2016…

Sauvignon Blanc—whose name means “wild white”—produces white wine with edges rather than curves, acid rather than butter, zing rather than purr. It is characterized by aromas of herbs, citrus, melon, gooseberry, stone, and meadows (including both hay and flowers). Flavors are similar, along with hints of green tea, smoke, and pepper. Racy and intense, tart and lively, Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for hot, humid summer days.

Sauvignon Blanc comes from many places. In France, it’s associated with Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. In Bordeaux, the grape’s piercing herbal, mineral qualities are tempered by the soft honey of the Sémillon grape. In the Loire, blending is forbidden; the brightness and intensity are left unadulterated, reflecting the area’s limestone soils. Soil and sun also show up in Sauv Blanc from northeast Italy, where citrus and minerality are hallmarks. New Zealand wines offer a riot of gooseberry, stone, lime, and tropical fruit, almost exploding from the glass. Chile’s versions tend towards citrus, tropical fruits, stones, and grass. In California, the wines are rounder, lower in acidity and occasionally aged in wood. Generally speaking, Sauv Blanc wines are crisp, clean, and focused, distinct in aromas and flavors, and great as aperitifs or food partners. Standard food pairings include seafood, salads, white meats, and fresh vegetables. Fresh herbs and vinaigrette on anything work well, and Chèvre is a classic match.

Our five wines come from five countries, two Old World, three New, all 100% Sauvignon Blanc. France provides a classic Loire wine, Domaine Roc de Châteauvieux Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2015. This bright yellow wine balances minerality with citrus and offers a long finish. The Friuli Grave region in northeast Italy is home to Tenuta Fernanda Cappello Sauvignon 2015. Friuli is particularly known for the production of white wines of elegance and depth, and this is a prime example, with a richness and roundness rare in Old World versions.

The Southern Hemisphere offers two wines. Chile’s Viu Manent Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2015 comes from an 80-year-old family winery; grapes for this bottling average 20 years old. The wine offers white fruits, lime and grapefruit, and saline notes from its proximity to the sea. Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 hails from New Zealand and is a superb expression of that country’s style—lemongrass, passionfruit, white peach and gooseberry are layered and intense. The wine is named for the ship of a Frenchman who explored the Marlborough coast in 1827. The New World example from the Northern Hemisphere is Heron Sauvignon Blanc Mendocino County 2014. The wine’s lemon-lime and honeysuckle aromas lead to mango and papaya flavors, followed by a citric finish with lively acidity throughout. Winemaker Laely Heron has led an unconventional life, and her approach to wine is similar—she owns no winery or vineyards but has many French oak barrels.

This is just a tiny part of Red Feet’s Sauvignon Blanc. A good summer project would be to see haw many more you can taste!

- M.P. Rouse

Aussies & Kiwis

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, June 2, 2016…

New Zealand consists of two main islands (aptly named North Island and South Island) and is home to the world’s southernmost vineyards. The North Island saw the first vines (1819) and wine (1839), but today the South Island accounts for 60% of the country’s production. In the early days, vine diseases, pests, and a strong temperance movement hindered the development of a wine industry. Bottles could not be sold in stores until after WWII and weren’t available in restaurants until the 1960s! New Zealand’s cool, often wet, maritime climate requires special growing practices, only developed in the 1980s. The country’s wines are noted for striking acidity and elegant flavors. Whites make up 75% of production, with Sauvignon Blanc dominant; Pinot Noir is the head red.

Two of today’s wines are from New Zealand, both from Marlborough on the sunny northern tip of the South Island. Smoke Stack Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is intense and aromatic, offering lime, grapefruit, nettle with nice weight, lively acidity. Pair with seafood, salads, and hot weather. Ponga Pinot Noir 2013, named for a native fern, is made by a family that helped plant the first Marlborough vineyard back in 1973. The bright red fruit (wild berries, spiced plums) and earthy notes make this a great partner for pork loin with pomegranate and orange, earthy vegetables and cooked greens, as well as Asian dishes that combine sweet and salt.

Although Australia’s first wine grapes were harvested in 1791, the country didn’t become a major player on the world wine scene until the 1970s. The southeast and the far west hold most of the vineyards. Both reds and whites are noted for big, fruity flavors and supple textures. Chardonnay, Riesling, and Semillon are the main white grapes; Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon dominate the reds. Vineyard and winemaking practices are thoroughly modern, scientific, and high tech.

The Australian wines are all new to the store. Vinaceous Wines Shakré Chardonnay 2014 comes from the Margaret River area near Perth, known for fine wine. This Chardonnay is fermented in both tank and new barrels (no malo), producing a bright, clean wine with a lingering finish. Pair with chicken or fish or let it stand alone. Pikes “Los Compañeros” Shiraz Tempranillo 2012 blends two “friends” grown in the Clare Valley. Ripe blueberry, spice, and chocolate are supported by both soft and slightly rustic tannins and good acidity. Enjoy this wine with your grilled preparations. Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 refers to a move in the game of cricket, and honors Penola, a historic cricket ground that is now the site of the vineyard. Coonawarra is the region, and it’s famous for Cabernet. This is a dark, aromatic wine, its blackberry, mint, mulberry and bay laced with acidity and ripe tannins. Pair with braised short ribs, fried tofu with spicy ginger-sesame sauce, or a roasted vegetable tart.

- M. P. Rouse

Explore the Finger Lakes (Wine, Cider & Spirits!)

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, May 26, 2016…

Flip open the latest issue of your favorite imbibing publication and you’ll be sure to find many of the region’s craft beverages dotting the pages. Every year, new wineries, distilleries and cideries open their doors, drumming up new interest in the region, raising the bar on quality craft beverage production, and telling their own unique story.

Today, you’re in for a treat! Get ready to explore the Finger Lakes by way of wine, cider, and distilled spirit, and discover the artistry pouring out of our hometown.

We’ll begin the tasting with a few still wines. The Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2014 has quite the story to tell. Dr. Frank paved the way for nearly all of the grape growers and wineries in the region, experimenting in the lab and in his own vineyard on Keuka Lake, to prove that vitis vinifera grapes could, in fact, survive the cold, harsh Upstate New York winters. More than 50 years later, thousands of acres of traditional European grapes are planted and thriving in our soils. Pair this zippy, green apple and citrus-focused Riesling with your favorite catch from the Friday Fish Truck in Triphammer Marketplace, roasted chicken, or delectable local chèvre.

Silver Thread Good Earth White 2014 comes from an environmentally conscious winery that gets 100% of its energy needs for their tasting room, winery, and warehouse from solar energy! It’s a blend of Vidal Blanc, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer hailing from Seneca Lake. Each component of this blend stands out: floral notes from the Vidal Blanc, peach and apricot from the Riesling, and a light spiciness from the Gewürztraminer. Easy going and perfect to enjoy on a hot day, and bold enough to stand up to flavorful Asian cuisine.

A newcomer on the scene, the Randolph O’Neill Cabernet Franc 2014 is the first vintage of Cabernet Franc for this Cayuga Lake winery. Born from a long time grape-grower turned winemaker, Kelley O’Neill crafts Riesling and Cabernet Franc from his estate vineyard, producing wines that showcase the purity of the region. Red-fruited with perky acidity and toasty notes, this red wine is great with barbecue and Mediterranean dishes.
Traveling further south on Cayuga Lake, we’ll now sample a product that satisfies the palates of cider, sparkling wine and rosé lovers at all once! Good Life Cider Vin de Pomme is a sparkling blend of sharp cider apples and fresh Riesling juice and DeChaunac wine. Fruity, fresh and fun – a perfect party starter! Good Life Cider is one of five local, artisanal, and farm-based cideries that come together under the roof of the Finger Lakes Cider House. If you’re into ciders, this is one stop that you won’t want to miss on your exploration of the region.

From field to flask, organically-grown grains make the base for the distilled spirits at Myer Farm Distillers. This family-owned distillery has a history of farming in the Finger Lakes that dates back to 1810! Their Cayuga Gold Gin is a unique, barrel-aged gin that spends 13 months in whiskey barrels. Notes of cinnamon, honey and maple make this a perfect substitute for whiskey in your favorite cocktails.

- K. Rose

A Mezcal to appeal to Dad’s decadent side…

Ilegal Mezcal Reposado
–Oaxaca, Mexico
$62

Complex, refined, and true to tradition.

If you’re looking for Father’s Day gift for a man with an elaborate spirits collection, this new mezcal arrival at Red Feet has charmed us all, and we’re sure will win over dad, too. Ilegal Reposado is a small batch artisanal mezcal from Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico. The hearts of the agave (the piñas – they look like pineapples!) are roasted in an earthen pit with mesquite and eucalyptus wood, then stone ground and fermented in oak vats. The ferment is then double distilled in small, alembic copper stills and aged in medium-char American oak for about four months. This production is much more of an art than a science, which is the beauty of age-old traditions.

Aromas: Sweet lime, honeycomb, pear, smoke, agave, salt
Palate: Buttery texture, grilled grapefruit, smoky, spicy finish
Drink: Sip, neat or on the rocks

(Available for purchase in store.)

Characterful, Rich Argentine Red Wines

This Father’s Day, transport the Dad in your life straight to Argentina!  The spicy, masculine, rich and characterful reds of this passionate country are extremely satisfying. They’re also a perfect match for grilled steaks, cigars and late evening relaxation.

 

HERE ARE A FEW FAVORITES THAT PACK BIG FLAVORS AND COMPLEXITY:

 

La Posta Fazzio Vineyard 2014
$18 –Mendoza, ARGENTINA

 

Classy with a high deliciousness factor! Aromas are fruity and bright, with notes of blackberries, cinnamon and clove. Medium weight and balanced on the palate, showing more berries layered with fruit cake spices.

 

Grapes for this wine come from a single vineyard planted at 3,500ft above-sea level in the Uco Valley of Mendoza.

Bodega Aleanna El Enemigo Cabenet Franc, 2011
$28 –Mendoza, ARGENTINA

 

Cab Franc in Argentina? Yes, it’s another Bordeaux variety with the ability to thrive there. Notes of black fruits and violets present themselves on the nose along with a hint of cedar. Medium weight with lively acidity and firm tannins wrapped around black fruits, and lingering flavors of smoke and graphite.

 
Planted on limestone soils in Gualtallary, Mendoza, grapes were harvested at five different times throughout the vintage.

Tikal Jubilo, 2012
$44 –Mendoza, ARGENTINA

This premium selection soars to high heights.

94 points — Wine Spectator

A blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon showing aromas of graphite, cedar wood, chocolate, plum jam and and blackberry pie. The palate is ripe and full-bodied, with concentration, lush texture and elegance.

Grapes for this blend come from vines with an average age of 26 years.

Explore Passionate Argentina

1. Empanadas - pastry or bread typically stuffed with beef that is baked or fried. 2. Colorful cuisine of Argentina. 3. Mount Aconcagua in Mendoza - the highest mountain outside of Asia. 4. Choripán - popular sandwich in Argentina made of grilled chorizo on a crusty bread (such as a marraqueta or baguette) with chimichurri. 5. Vineyards are nestled in valleys surrounded by the Andes mountains in Mendoza.

LIQUID GEOGRAPHY: Argentina’s wine scene is a result of its ideal topography and geographic location. High-altitude grape-growing allows slower-ripening, gives the wines balance and prevents over-ripeness, while the Andes Mountains provide dry, sunny weather patterns and plenty of snow melt to irrigate the vines growing below them. It rains so little during the growing season that fine wine would be impossible without water from the Andes.

Argentina exploded on the wine scene about fifteen years ago with a wine profile that is easy to love and prices that over-deliver. While we have plenty of value wines from the region, there are also some very special bottles (meaning complex, cellar-worthy and world-class in quality) when you’re willing to spend more. Recent investments mean not only the most modern wineries, but also the know-how to produce elegant wines and achieve superb quality. (Check out a few of our recent favorite wines from Argentina.)

This is a country that offers incredible beauty and culture: ski resorts, tango, thoroughbred horses, incredible food and fine wine.

6. Tango - Argentina is well known as the birthplace of the Tango, a passionate and playful partner dance. 7. Catena Zapata - the iconic facade of one of Argentina's premier, modern wineries. (El Enemigo winemaker Alejandro Vigil has been the chief winemaker at Catena Zapata since 2002. Vigil's business partner Adrianna Catena is the daughter of Nicolás Catena, the owner of Catena Zapata. Ernesto Catena, Tikal winemaker, is also the son of Nicolás Catena.) 8. Buenos Aires - Argentina's cosmopolitan capital known for its European atmosphere and vibrant nightlife. 9. Polo - one of Argentina's most popular sports.

Staff Picks

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, May 19, 2016…

Our last staff picks tasting was in April of last year. Criteria have changed a bit: selections had to be under $25, and something that we haven’t poured in the past six months. Here we go!

Jeff has chosen something a bit unusual—Lustau Los Arcos Dry Amontillado, a sherry that’s drier than one would expect from Amontillado. He explains, “Partly aged under ‘flor’ before fortification and oxidative aging, this dry Amontillado strikes the perfect balance between the briny, tangy flavors of the lighter Fino sherries and the nutty richness of a sweeter Oloroso. Perfect for sipping and miraculous with food.” Pair with a handful of almonds or olives, dry or hard cheeses, richer tapas, or steamed mussels.

Empar says, “I love Grüner Veltliner—refreshing on its own on a hot day and versatile at the table. The Vorspannhof Mayr Grüner Veltliner 2014 is named after Silke Mayr whose husband, Walter Buchegger, makes the wine. Most of the grapes (60%) come from Silke’s family vineyards and the rest is sourced from local growers. Notes of apples, pears, melons, and a hint of minerality make it perfect for your next picnic or potluck, and it comes in a liter bottle so you get one more glass!”

Kristina has chosen a local wine, Wagner Vineyards Dry Rosé 2015, made from Cabernet Franc. She comments, “Who doesn’t love a cold glass of rosé on a sunny day?! I love seeing great wines come out of the Finger Lakes, and I believe that rosé is a category of wines that the region excels in tremendously. I chose the Wagner Dry Rosé as my Hang Time pick because as Wagner’s first bottling of a traditional rosé, they knocked it out of the park—beautiful color, elegant aromatics, and ripe flavors—and that’s worth celebrating!”

Venturing into the red wines of today’s tasting, we’ll start with Dewi’s pick. She says, “I’ve found I love Portuguese wines as they seem to perfectly straddle the appeal of both Old World and New World wines, they work well at the table or alone, and the values are terrific. The Quinta de Chocapalha Castelão 2013 is rich, dense, and suave with sweet blackberry fruit, pencil lead, mineral, and fresh acidity.” This is a great barbecue or charcuterie wine.

Anyone who knows MP’s taste in wine would expect an Italian choice, but that’s not the case this time around. “Surprise! I’ve chosen a big California red, Ironstone Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel 2013. This is an elegant expression of Zin with fabulous aromas, great depth and complexity, chocolate and ripe (but not overripe) fruit, silky texture, and a long finish. Pair with tender beef or nothing at all.”

These choices are not our favorite wines—that would be too difficult—but all of these wines have personality and purpose and are great examples of their kind.

- M. P. Rouse

Spanish Speaking Wines II: Road Trip Around Spain

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, May 12, 2016…

Our first tasting of Spanish-speaking wines back in February focused on Argentina and Chile; today we’ll taste wines from the motherland.

Before we start our tour, let’s look at the Spanish DO (Denominación de Origen) system created in 1932 and modified several times since then. Recently it has expanded to cover a wide variety of foods—meat, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, spices, oils, honey, seafood, and more. When the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food grants DO status for a particular item and place, this is a recognition of its superior quality. A Consejo Regulador is created, and the skilled, impartial members of this regulatory council oversee production and quality in the broad sense. In the case of wine, this involves setting geographic boundaries, allowed grape varieties, maximum yields, alcohol limits, labeling, ageing, and typicity. This last requires producers to submit their wines for tasting each vintage. It can happen that very great wines break the rules and do not get DO status. Today’s wines are all good citizens.

We’ll start our road trip in Galicia; located in the northwest, it’s the greenest, wettest part of the country. Albariño Serea 2014, made for an American importer, is an example of the region’s best white grape. Albariño is an aromatic grape, quite high in acidity, and flavor. About 2/3 of Spain’s seafood comes from this region, and in all its myriad forms, has the perfect dance partner in Albariño’s lemony acidity. The grape also likes fried foods and Asian fare. We’ll head south and east to Rueda on the south of the Duero River for one of the DO’s crisp whites. Bodegas Shaya Shaya 2014 comes from a very old vineyard with rocks and sand in place of soil. This is a complex version of the Verdejo grape, with baking spices, marzipan, spring flowers, and stone fruits. This is another great partner for seafood; it pairs well with fresh vegetable dishes or pesto pasta.

Off to the north to what is arguably Spain’s most famous wine. Finca La Emperatriz Rioja Crianza 2011 is 95% Tempranillo aged beyond the minimum Crianza requirements. This wine looks, smells, and tastes great; its black fruit, spice, and wood are supported by refined tannins. Manchego, stewed vegetables, and lamb pair well. Continuing east, we’ll pause in Campo de Borja to taste the Bodegas Borsao Berola 2012, a blend led by 60-year-old Garnacha vines. After 14 months in barrel, the wine has become supple, rich, and complex, with fruit (black) and savory (balsamic, toast) notes. Full-flavored food called for here. Finally, down to the southeast and a sip of Tarima Organic Monastrell 2014. Deeply colored, concentrated, and full-bodied, its blueberry and black raspberry also pick up the crushed stone in which the vines grow. This unoaked wine likes grilled or stewed mushrooms or meat. These wines are a tiny sample of the pleasures a road trip in Spain has to offer!

- M. P. Rouse

Honor Thy Mother

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, May 5, 2016…

Mother’s Day is coming this weekend. Red Feet is celebrating mothers—the women who raised us, our partners and friends, even Mother Earth. We’ll taste some lovely libations for a special meal, to welcome the belated arrival of spring and to provide some celebratory fun.

We’ll kick things off with a Spanish white from Valdeorras in the northwest, Avancia Godello 2013. These Godello grapes come from very old vineyards and are fermented and aged in French oak, giving the wine weight and texture reminiscent of the Burgundian expression of Chardonnay. Green melon, peach, Meyer lemon, and pineapple join wet pebbles and chalky mineral notes supported by crisp acid. Pair this luscious wine with anything from the sea (crab, lobster ravioli in cream sauce, sea bass), pasta with pesto, roast chicken, or a slice of Provolone or Manchego cheese.

Our two reds are a study in contrasts. Sean Minor 4Bears Pinot Noir 2014 is a ripe California expression of this grape. Its dark cherry, blackberry, plum, and violet notes have a touch of oak spice; integrated acidity lengthens the finish. This has enough power for tender cuts of beef, pairs well with grilled salmon or ahi tuna, loves pork loin, and cozies up to mushrooms. Soft or mild cheeses work well too. On the more intense side of red we suggest Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2013. Think of this as a baby Amarone (a wine made from dried grapes), and you won’t be far off. The name “Ripasso” refers to the process in which the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of Amarone are added to the batch of Valpolicella wines for a period of extended maceration adding flavor, color, and structure. This is great with full-flavored risottos, braised or stewed lamb or beef, mushroom dishes, and aged, creamy, and/or strongly flavored cheeses.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with something both local and special, Chateau Frank Célèbre NV, made from Riesling grapes using the Champagne method, with its second fermentation in the bottle. This non-vintage sparkler shows inviting apple, honey and spice notes, making it a great brunch partner or an aperitif before a night on the town.

What about something to settle down with after a lovely dinner or to serve in a cocktail before the meal? Try the Meletti Amaro, an Italian digestivo made from a secret blend of aromatic fruits, herbs, and spices. Sweet orange peel and bitter gentian are among the botanicals, as are cloves. Try mixing one part Meletti Amaro, two parts of bourbon and five dashes of aged Angostura bitters for a variation on the Manhattan.

As this Mother’s Day approaches, Red Feet says “Thank you” to all those past, present, and future moms—we wish you the best.

- M.P. Rouse