Monthly Archives: February 2015

Southern Hemisphere Wines

The new world versus the old world is a common battleground in the wine arena. However while old world is easily defined as the European masters such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany, and New World was always Napa Valley and Sonoma valley, I want to talk about the New new world of wines. The Southern Hemisphere can be easily forgotten!


Southern Hemisphere wines have had a renaissance in the past few years, while Australia had a big boom with cheap shiraz and Sauvignon blanc was made famous by the innovative e winemakers of New Zealand, other countries like Chile,, Argentina and South Africa have come to market with amazing wines!


Stellenbosch South Africa Vineyards

Stellenbosch South Africa Vineyards

South Africa has been making wines since 1659. But it has only recently started to make great inroads into the consciousness of Americans. South Africa makes good use of the classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay grapes, but two of my favorites are the blended wines and a great white wine made with Chenin Blanc


Bush Camp Red is made by the Landskroon wine company. Landskroon is dates back to the 17th century when the French Huguenot settlers came to the Cape. The Bush Camp Red is a crazy good value. It is a blend of Cinsault, Cabernet, Shiraz and a touch of Cabernet Franc. It has flavors of black raspberry and a little smoke. But for whatever reason the flavor profile is perfect for my taste buds. IT is about $9-10 a bottle and among the greatest values in the world!


The Bush Camp Sundowner Chenin Blanc is an awesome white sipper. It is fresh and clean tasting and will go great with fish and a nice crisp salad. It is slightly dry, but has enough fruit to please everyone!


Argentina is also a region that has become more popular lately. Malbec is the grape that has brought the Argentine wines to the forefront. Malbec is originally a French wine that was used in many basic Bordeaux blends. Malbec has great big tannins and a rich inky dark color. Argentina is famous for their cattle farms and amazing steaks! Try a Brazilian Steakhouse like Fogo De Chao, for a small taste of great Brazilian Grilled Meats! Malbec goes perfectly with any grilled beef. A great Value is Tilia malbec. It is a top seller due to its aromas of black cherry and plum. Nicolas Catena is the brain trust behind this everyday killer wine. Catena was a pioneer in the Argentine wine world. His wines have won competitions throughout the world and his Namesake Catena Alta is always top rated around the world. With Tilia you get a little bit of the masters magic for about $10 per bottle! Tilia comes in Malbec, Chardonnay, Cabernet and a little sleeper wine called Torrontes. The Torrontes is slightly sweet with a little effervescence. Try it by itself or with light appetizers or salads,, it is refreshing and clean!


Adelaide Hills Australia Vineyards

Adelaide Hills Australia Vineyards

Australia is still the king of Southern hemisphere wines. It produces more wine and has the largest vineyards in the southern hemisphere. It is easy to forget that it is a Continent onto itself! It has many different climates and great regions. It can make wines in virtually any style! But I love Aussie Red wines. The king of the Grape world Cabernet Sauvignon is well represented, but Shiraz is the kingpin in the land down under. Australian Shiraz is Rich, with lively berry flavors and aromas. It is so good that I drool as I write about it! True Aussie Shiraz can match up with the greatest wines in the world! While Yellow Tail Shiraz and its ilk can be great quaffable values, step up a bit and try the next level or two. A few dollars a bottle can make a huge difference in the quality. Try Black Opal Shiraz for about $9 a bottle. It is about the best red wine for a little scratch that I know of. The Stump Jump red is another favorite of mine. It’s a cool blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mouvedre. Rich jammy and tons of flavor. It is made by D’Arenberg wines, which is a 6th generation wine family in Australia. Chester Osborne, the latest in the lineage, knows what he is doing!


Event though it is a world away, and even though everything is backwards, from the seasons being opposite, to the toilets swirling the wrong way, the one thing the southern hemisphere can do do right is the great wines! Try one of these southern stars or any down under wine and you will love it!

By |February 16th, 2015|Wine Blogs|0 Comments

Stirred – Not Shaken

Classic Martini

Classic Martini

Nothing evokes images of class and sophistication like a fine Martini. From the impeccably clad James Bond to the fine aristocratic gentleman of London England to the high class wall street bankers in New York, a martini is the perfect way to finish a day, close a deal, or just enjoy the finer things in life!

But what is a martini? Is it the glass? It is it ingredients? Is it the method? In actuality it is all three and more! The origins of the martini are a little murky, but one of my favorite stories is the New York version where a guy named Martini invented the drink. Other theories say an Italian drink company made the first one, or that the Martini came from the Martinez drink? Whatever the origin, most people agree that the original martini was a simple concoction of gin and vermouth!

A true gin martini is 3 parts gin and one part dry vermouth, garnished with a lemon twist or olives. From here you can make it drier and drier! A dry martini simply means less vermouth in the ratio. It is said that a true Englishmen will pour three parts of gin, wave the vermouth bottle over the glass and bow to the east—the direction of France where vermouth originated!

From this simple recipe, martinis have grown to become one of the most popular drinks in the world. The Martini glass with the long stem and open mouth(perfect to enjoy the aroma) has become the signature. Virtually anything you pour into the unique glass is called a martini! Name a flavor and you can probably find a ‘martini” recipe to satisfy your taste buds! Chocolate, peppermint, mango, cranberry, etc. The list can go on and on!

Non-Traditional Martini

Non-Traditional Martini

James Bond, one of the most famous martini drinkers ever, prefers his martinis with an added touch of flavor and panache! The original Bond likes 3 parts Gordon’s Gin, 1 part vodka, and a half part Lillet Blanc. Shake it well and add the lemon peel. In the original Casino Royale book he called the delicious elixir the Vesper, after a female secret agent.

I prefer Vodka to gin. My Martini recipe is a little different. I first chill my martini glass, with a little ice. I then add some dry vermouth to the glass. I swirl the vermouth to coat the glass with a delicate film of vermouth flavor. After dumping the vermouth, I then add 2-3 oz. of Chopin Vodka to my shaker. I shake it with vigor and urgency then pour straight into the glass. 3 basic martini olives is a must—I need my veggies! The slight film of vermouth is perfect for my taste buds. I love Chopin Vodka. It is 100% potato vodka from Poland. It has a slight creaminess to the finish that I have never found in another vodka. It is wonderful!

True mixologists never shake their martinis. They prefer to stir it. Shaking a drink adds at least 23% more water to the mix. I like this because it is a little lower alcohol in the final drink. Purists like to stir because you get the truest expression of the products flavor. But it doesn’t matter what the experts say. Experiment and do what you like! The fun is in the journey not just the destination!

Without getting into the hundreds of other martinis, I have to mention another great recipe. The Dirty Martini. A Dirty Martini is for olive lovers. It is made just like you would make any other Gin or Vodka martini. But you add an ounce or two of olive juice from the olive jar. It takes the edge off the martini and really accentuates the flavors! They are fun and easy to make and are very environmentally sound! You use every bit of the jar of olives! No waste!

Martinis are simple to make, but are truly a classic. Sometimes the classic drinks are still best. Experiment and find your perfect ratio. There are dozens of great gin and vodkas you can try. Every libation has its own character and flavor. Don’t be afraid! You can never go wrong. Sometimes you will just like one better than the other! Cheers!!

By |February 11th, 2015|Spirits Blog|0 Comments