"The 1995 Amarone has developed beautifully. It remains firm and vibrant, with lovely complexity in its perfumed red cherries, licorice, leather, mint and flowers. Still big and full-bodied, the 1995 promises to drink well for a number of years. It is a magnificent effort from Allegrini. Much of the wine’s freshness can be attributed to a cold, rainy spring that resulted in an uneven flowering and naturally lower yields. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2015." - Antonio Galloni, Vinous (Apr 2010)”
“1991 Grace Family Vineyards Cabernet
RARE! A soft elegant medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon the Grace Family Vineyards' 1991 lacks the concentration and intensity of the winery's marvelous past efforts. Nevertheless there are generous amounts of rich black-cherry and cassis fruit a gentle touch of toasty new oak and a velvety finish. It is a Cabernet Sauvignon to drink over the next decade.”
“95 points International Wine Cellar
“2003 Bodegas y Vinedos Vega Sicilia Unico Ribera del Duero:
Inky ruby. Highly aromatic scents of ripe cherry and dark berries, singed plum, cured tobacco and succulent herbs, with a vanilla undertone. Sweet, expansive and powerful, offering intense black and blue fruit flavors with smoke and floral accents. Rich and full but surprisingly lively, with excellent finishing thrust and sweet, harmonious tannins adding grip. Shows the ripeness of the vintage to good effect; this is a somewhat approachable and exotic Unico, especially with some air, but it has the concentration to age slowly. 95 points
By Josh Raynolds
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, Sep/Oct 13
--Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar”
”Vega Sicilia is unquestionably a unique wine, and one of the great Spanish classics. Its personality not only comes from the maximum quality of the grape and the rigour involved in its manufacture, but also, and above all, from the care for detail that the Álvarez family has succeeded in transmitting to the wines. From a universal perspective, the peculiar characteristics of Vega Sicilia define it as a very Spanish wine and, in fact, it is one of the national wines that receives respect at the mention of its name. The Vega Sicilia wines enjoy a certain old but stately air, like period furniture; wines with great elegance, finesse, complexity and the ample capacity for maintaining their characteristics in the bottle for a long time.
Unico is the reference wine of Vega Sicilia, although it shares its special character with the rest of the wines from the winery. It comes from the older vines on the estate and is made with the varieties of tempranillo and more cabernet sauvignon than merlot. Although it is old, the red wine maintains its liveliness thanks to its good acidity level compensated by solid alcohol content. It has an intense ripe cherry colour, with the lively edge of a wine that is always at its best. The aroma prevails with hints of roast from the wood, and touches of hazelnut from its oxidative evolution from its years in the cask. It has generous tastes of old but clean wood, with dry tannins that are pleasantly embittered by the oak, together with the sensation of its light sweetness of its alcohol. It is a pedigree wine with a long, lasting taste.”
ABOUT THE VEEVOLETTE COCKTAIL
According to some, “It’s like drinking a bouquet of flowers.”
INGREDIENTS IN THE VEEVOLETTE COCKTAIL
VeeV Açaí Spirit
Crème de violette
Lemon or lime juice
Monin Violet syrup
1 violet edible flower
HOW TO MAKE THE VEEVOLETTE COCKTAIL
Put everything into a shaker.
Garnish with a violet-colored edible flower.
One of those folksy Pinot Noirs harking back to all the terroir that Central Europe is famous for:
“2008 Rudolf Fürst Spätburgunder Trocken "Tradition" - Germany, Franken (10/5/2010)
2008 Rudolf Fürst Spätburgunder Trocken "Tradition".
This ***** estate bottles three Grosses Gewachs Spätburgunders, one each from the Centgrafenberg (soft c), from the Schlossberg, and the Hunsrück. There is a Klingenberg village bottling. In addition, a 'Tradition' bottling, of regional style, is made.
Two-thirds aged in neutral 'Doppelstück' and one-third barriqe. Euros 12 (US $15.60) ex cellars. Probably not imported into the United States but would be around $40 in most markets if it were. Rich cherry color but still transparent to the center. Underneath the tart-cherry nose there is a fascinating fruity spiciness of clove, ginger, and mint, reminiscent of a good Vosne. Light to medium in body, with big, ripe tannins and crisp, balanced, juicy acidity. The style is polished and deft, with a nice ripeness and a savory finish. Many tasters would probably have scored this wine higher, but in the view of the international market for these wines, the quality is that of a good villages wine from a ripe but classic vintage. A fine effort for what is the introductory pinot noir from this estate..”
94 points Wine Advocate
“The 2009 Vina El Pison is born from 67-year-old vines within a real clos rather than the fictitious ones that abound. I could be pedantic and separate it from Juan Carlos- wines under the Artadi umbrella, but like my predecessor, I will include it here. The 2009 has a fresh, floral, Margaux-like bouquet with fine delineation and intensity. The palate is full-bodied with an almost impenetrable carapace of licorice-tinged black fruits, minerals, citrus peel and a powerful, sensual finish. Perhaps impressive more than pleasurable (at the moment), this behemoth will need a decade in the cellar before it will shine. Drink 2022-2040.
by Neal Martin, Issue #200, August 2012
--The Wine Advocate”
”Viña el Pison is located in Laguardia, facing southeast. From this vineyard we produce a wine, almost mythical, with an identity and personality bound to the environment.
It covers an area of 2.4 Has, is situated in a small hollow, protected by a natural barrier of stones and lies in sandy limestone rock. The soils have a strong structure and their composition is poor.
Lime and clay soils allow the development of the vineyard with regulated quantities of water and minerals during the growth cycle.
This family vineyard was planted in 1945 by our grandfather Jenaro San Pedro Carrera. Since 1991 we have cultivated its grapes to create a wine which reflects the exclusivity and peculiarities of the microclimate and the soils.
The Pison vineyard produces a wine which is a reflection of the knowledge of our ancestors and our passion to keep the spirit of the vineyard alive.
The balance of natural elements results in a wine full of fine fruits, delicate spices, mineral hints and silky tannins.
Viña el Pison is a wine full of body and character, elegant, with depth and complex sensations.”
New Zealand: again, punching above its weight class…
“James Suckling Notes:
TOP 100 NEW ZEALND WINES 2017 #13 - A beautiful Sophia. The concentration, the fruit presence and purity, the measured tannins and confident ripeness - there's so much to impress here and the wine is at the start of a very long ride. Blueberry and cassis, cherries and violets, fresh earth and stony elements, too. The palate holds long and fleshy with a flawlessly integrated array of flavors, varieties and tannin textures. It builds and finishes assertively in the mode of great Claret. You can approach it now, but it will hit full stride around 2025 and drink for at least a decade after that..December/2017"
NO SHRINKING VIOLETS HERE
As expected, it turns out I’m wrong. While doing the research for this post, I learned that purple is just a mix of red and blue, while violet is actually a color in the spectrum of light. Who knew?
So, why this fascination with violets, and things violet? Violets, the flower, have been around for pretty much forever. They are documented in ancient Greece around 500 BC, and likely existed well before that. They were used by the Greeks in wine, food, and even medicine. They were seen as a sign of fertility and love, and used in purported love potions. Pliny counseled that a garland of them be used to get rid of headaches.
There are almost five hundred different varieties of violets, which are grown pretty much all over the US. They are the state flower of Illinois, and legend has it that Napoleon put them on Josephine’s grave. They have a very special and recognizable smell, which goes away quickly, as they contain a chemical that desensitizes the nose. They are an edible flower, and actually have some nutritional value; they contain more Vitamin C than most vegetables (https://www.teleflora.com/blog/7-fun-facts-about-violets/).
Violets can be used in many recipes, balms, and other concoctions, including infused oils, lip balms, aloes, jelly, and vinegar. But our interest today goes to another use, almost forgotten by time, but making a strong comeback in today’s bar scene - Crème de Violette.
Crème de Violette origin and history
This liqueur goes back to the beginning of the 19th century, with European origins. Violet sweets and candies were all the rage, and the liqueur was developed in parallel to that craze. It was made by steeping violet leaves in brandy, and adding sugars to the mixture. The “crème” indicates the use of sugars, versus cream (think Bailey’s), which has the addition of dairy products. This drink was originally served by itself, or with a vermouth, until Hugo Ensslin published an early bartender’s guide, and had this liqueur used in a cocktail called an Aviation. The Aviation, and the Crème de Violette itself, were very popular during the Roaring 20’s and into the depression era. Prohibition and changing tastes drove a decline in popularity, and, it became harder and harder to find in the US, until it disappeared completely. Contributing to the disappearance was a typo in a well-noted bar guide from the 1930s, the Savoy Cocktail guide, which inadvertently left the Crème de Violette out of the recipe for the Aviation.
In 2007, it was reintroduced to America as Rothman and Winter Crème de Violette was imported into the states. Their version was made from two different varieties of violets, combined with a German brandy (https://drinkstraightup.com/2013/04/15/creme-de-violette/). It is now much more widely available, and you should be able to find it not only through online retailers, and in larger liquor stores. While there will be some variation in taste due to the distiller’s selected combination of violets and spirits, in general, there will be a floral nose to the liqueur, mostly violet, but with a subtle smell of sugar. Taste wise, Crème de Violette will have a very strong violet flavor, even sweeter than the scent, which will stay consistent through the finish. As far as the actual look and color of the neat liqueur, see below (courtesy listal.com):
Creme de Violette
Looks brilliant fluted
Crème de Violette drinks
As we move toward the 2020s, many of the popularities of the 1920s are showing up again. The Aviation is a great example of this. I can’t predict if it will be joined by flappers and the discovery of the next Fitzgerald, but you can transport yourself back with this libation.
The Aviation itself is a combination of Crème de Violette, gin, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice (https://drinkstraightup.com/2013/02/25/aviation/). In this cocktail, the floral scent and taste of the violets will be blended in with the citrus tones of the lemon juice and gin, resulting in a more tart than sweet taste. Here’s a look at the finished product (photo courtesy Pinterest):
Creme de Violette, Gin, Maraschino, and Lemon Juice
If you like the Aviation, you might like several other cocktails based on the liqueur. Recipes for the Adelita, the Sun Prairie, the Crème de Canne Collins, Forest, Left Coast, the Liberation, the Violet Sunset, the Violet Winter, and the Gray Ghost are published online.
Make your own Crème de Violette
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can even make your Crème de Violette. While there are many variations on the Internet, I like this one. You can change the quantities based on your personal preferences, but try to keep the same ratio of ingredients. This one is courtesy of https://www.theginkin.com/2018/11/23/make-your-own-creme-de-violette-recipe/.
350 ml vodka
70 ml cognac (brandy can be substituted, but having the leftover cognac is a plus)
150 grams violet pastilles
25 grams sugar
7 drops blue, 5 drops red food coloring (doesn’t that make purple?)
Mix the two alcohols and the violet flowers in a large, open mouth jar, such as a Mason jar. Seal tightly, let sit for 24 hours, shaking occasionally to let the ingredients blend. Words of warning here – don’t use African violet flowers, as they are not edible. Don’t use violet flowers that have been treated with pesticides; they should be designated as safe for eating. Don’t use violet flowers that your dog has been watering for you. Now be patient.
After the 24 hours are up, add the sugar and food coloring to the mixture. Mix well. You now have Crème de Violette. You can drink it as is, or try any of the cocktails noted above.
So, now you know all about the history of Crème de Violette. You have a description of the flavor and aroma of the liqueur, which should give you the incentive to try it yourself. You can purchase it, or make it yourself. There are almost a dozen cocktail variations to try. Maybe even in a Depression area cocktail glass. I see a very pleasant weekend in your future.
"Lastly, the flagship wine of Amuse Bouche, the 2013 Proprietary Red Blend Amuse Bouche (Merlot), 96% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, has always been one of the best Merlot-based wines in Northern California. It shows loads of espresso bean, white chocolate, mocha, black cherry and blackberry fruit. The wine is soft, but structured, vibrant, juicy and full-bodied. Drink it over the next 15-20 years." - Robert M, Parker, Jr., eRobertParker.com #222, Dec 2015
“96 Points, Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com: "The 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is a brilliant bottle of wine and is another ripe, sexy, ready to go 2013 Brunello. This was a sunny, warm vintage that suffered from rain at harvest, yet the wines have loads of charm and accessibility, and they certainly don't lack for ripeness. This beauty boasts a medium ruby color as well as a fabulous bouquet of spiced red cherries, balsamic, incense, and licorice. It's medium to full-bodied, layered, ripe, and seamless on the palate, with nicely concealed oak and rock-solid underlying density and ripe tannins. It's a beautiful wine that has plenty of upfront appeal as well as upwards of two decades of longevity. Bravo!" 12/18”
“Lurid ruby. An expansive, complex bouquet evokes cherry liqueur, blueberry, incense and candied flowers, along with a smoky mineral nuance that builds in the background. Shows outstanding depth and energy to the red and blue fruit and spicecake flavors, which become more lively and gain sweetness with aeration. Closes on a suave lavender pastille note, offering rounded, even tannins and emphatic, blue-fruit-driven persistence.”
“2005 Alban Vineyards Pandora Rhone Blend - 94+ pts!
Another wine with explosive aromas of pepper, spice box, lavender, sweet cherries and currants and a decidedly Provencal personality is the 2005 Pandora, a combination of 92% Grenache and 8% Syrah. This is a deep, distinctive red with stunning aromatics as well as loads of personality. It should be at its peak over the next 7-8 years.
The wines of John and Lorraine Alban are about as spectacular as one can find anywhere in the world. Alban is committed to aging his big Syrahs longer in barrel, believing it will concentrate the wines and add additional complexity.”
Ruby red in color with purple highlights, the 2014 Tignanello shows an intense nose of red fruit with hints of leather and sweet spice. The wine is ample and enveloping on the palate with supple tannins that respect the character and personality of the Sangiovese grape. The finish and aftertaste are of lovely length and persistence.”
93 Points, Monica Larner - The Wine Advocate: ""This is my official review of the 2014 Bolgheri Sassicaia after having been graciously invited to the estate for various barrel samples spanning back several years. I have watched the evolution of this wine with a close eye and am impressed by how its real quality is diametrically opposed to the poor expectations of this difficult vintage. The nose is redolent of bright fruit and blackberry. Spice, tar and leather appear subtly at the back. The wine took on considerable weight each year I came back to taste it and this vintage was bottled earlier than average, precisely to give it more time to unwind and relax in the small confines of the bottle. This is a solid effort for sure and the wine is a stunning example of what it takes to make great wine, even when weather conditions are not in your favor."" Issue #230, 4/17"
“The second wine of Ch. Lynch-Bages, this has an attractive, dark ruby colour. It releases fresh fruit aromas of red berries and what a joy to taste! The palate is marked by spicy and oaky notes while the tannins are soft and round, but there is such energy on the palate. Very well poised, it finishes long.
Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon 73%, Merlot 27%”
“1991 Dalla Valle Maya Proprietary Red - 99 Pts!
The 1991 Maya made from equal proportions of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon has developed incredibly since I tasted it nearly a year ago and rated it 94. The wine is black/purple-colored and offers up a compelling bouquet of flowers”