A Proper Wine Blog

wine
Dedication:
I would like to thank Little Man, not only for taking two[1] great naps yesterday, but for having an excellent independent play session this morning which allowed me to drink some wine and write this blog.

It seems like its been awhile since I actually blogged about wine. I’m not gonna lie, wine consumption is WAY down since Little Man joined us. It’s difficult to stay awake past 9 pm, let alone have a glass of wine at night after he goes to sleep. And my palate really is different. Flavors aren’t jumping out at me like they did before, and I’m much more comfortable drinking low-key, smooth wines rather than big, complex and tannic ones[2].

And surprisingly, I’ve been much more into beer. During my pregnancy I didn’t crave much in terms of food, but I DID crave beer. All I wanted was a big frothy Guinness. Not a glass of wine, not a bottle of Champagne, but Guinness. So random, I know. I’ve indulged in that a few times, but you can really only drink so many pints of Guinness before it’s a bit overwhelming[3].

So slowly[4] but surely, I’m getting back in the swing of things. And I decided to do a proper wine blog about a lovely bottle of Riesling I’ve been saving.

2012 Gustave Lorentz Lieu-Dit Burg Riesling
2012 Gustave Lorentz Lieu-Dit Burg Riesling

__________________________________________________________________________
To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:              Wine Esquire
Date:               February 10-11, 2018
Wine:              2012 Gustave Lorentz Lieu-Dit Burg Riesling[5]
__________________________________________________________________________

Beautiful nose, it smells thick and juicy, full of flavor. Great mouthfeel too, medium bodied, it refreshingly coats your mouth. I’m getting pineapple like crazy, but not too sweet, a hint of green apple too. A dash of minerality rounds this out for a perfect finish. The color is gorgeous; like thick, golden honey. Not much in the way of legs, it almost coats the glass then disappears like condensation without any tears left behind.

I could seriously do with some cheese on apple slices to pair with this, but Little Man is napping and I only have so much time 😉

This Riesling from Alsace, France by producer Gustave Lorentz, specifically their 2012 Lieu-Dit[6] Burg Riesling. The Maison Gustave Lorentz has been making wine since 1836, beginning with a 33 hectare[7] vineyard in Bergheim, in the heart of Alsace, just half an hour from the German border. Now, six generations later, the same family continues their winemaking tradition. The wines of Gustave Lorentz are certified organic by Ecocert[8] and have been since 2012. The estate grown Riesling, Pinot-Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat and Pinot Noir are all harvested and vinified separately, allowing each grape to express the unique terroir from which it hails.

This bottle came to me as a sample[9] from Quintessential Wines, a Napa-based importer with a  focus on multi-generational, family owned-and-operated wineries, and their portfolio is pretty impressive.

wine
Feels like spring!

This particular vintage seems particularly difficult to get your hands on at the moment, but other offerings from this winemaker are widely available online and throughout the US.

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnote

[1] Yes, TWO both for over an hour and a half! This is from the boy who went the previous 48 hours with only sporadic 30-minute naps. (Except at night when he sleeps 10 hours at a clip. I know, I know, I’m so lucky)

[2] I’ve also not had much time to sit down and explore flavors. Can’t imagine why.

[3] And filling! I can see why they call it a “meal in a glass!”

[4] Very slowly.

[5] This particular vintage earned a 91 score from Wine Enthusiast.

[6] Lieu Dit translates to “said location” and is a wine term used for identifying very small and particular geographical locations. Not to be confused with the California winery Lieu Dit. (Confession: I was confused. As a trademark attorney, I may have pushed the California guys toward another name. #lawyerlife)

[7] 1 hectare is equal to approximately 2.47105 acres; so 33 hectares is approximately 81.5448 acres.

[8] When you see this little green label flag on European wines, you’ll know its certified organic by Ecocert.

ecocert organic wine
Ecocert Organic

[9] Opinions contained herein are my own. If I didn’t like it, I would have poured it down the drain and saved you the trouble of reading this.

wine blog
Welcome to my office

Come and Dine at Downton

wine and Highclere Castle

As you may know from previous posts, Husband has partnered on a number of projects with Lord and Lady Carnarvon[1], owners of Highclere Castle, aka the Real Downton Abbey. This means that we periodically get to visit our friends across the Pond and enjoy time in their wonderful home. The stunning Castle is like a step back in time. Walking in for the first time, I was astounded to realize how well I knew the interior of their home – it’s because virtually all Downton did was remove their personal photos. All the furniture is theirs!

Lady Carnarvon is now opening her home to the public and wants YOU to come and dine at Downton too! She’s running a contest for the month of February in order to raise money for PBS. All you have to do is throw a FABULOUS dinner party, inspired by Highclere and Downton Abbey, raise some funds to donate and enter to win. The winners will be flown to the UK, courtesy of Viking River Cruises, stay the night at Highclere[2], and enjoy a FABULOUS dinner party with Lord and Lady Carnarvon[3].

Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle lit up for a dinner party!

Husband and I are planning our soirée now[4] using recipes from Lady Carnarvon’s latest book, At Home At Highclere. We made her famous chocolate pots for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit! There’s recipe ideas on her blog as well. Let me know if you’re going to enter and we can chat about party planning!

Chocolate Pots
Lady Carnarvon’s Chocolate Pots

Now on to arranging a menu and wine pairing! Until the next glass!

wine and Highclere Castle
I needed some vino inspiration!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] Highclere Castle Cigars, which are now available throughout the US, Highclere Castle Gin, which is getting ready for production, and a Highclere Castle Distillery, which is in the works!

[2] Perhaps in Lady Mary’s room where poor Mr. Pamuk died from utter bliss?!

[3] Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that Wine Esquire should be on the guest list for this event. #ToDoList

[4] Fascinators will be required. Obviously.

Highclere Castle
Dressed up for dinner at Highclere Castle

Lovely, Bubbly London

Wine London Clos Maggiore

I daresay, a good adventure or two is always in order. Husband and I seem to manage a few each year, and our most recent little jaunt to London was the perfect way to start off 2018. Our first trip away from Baby got off to a fantastic start; I passed my terrible head cold to Little Man, resulting in his first multi-day fever, complete with cough, runny nose and extremely unusual[1] lack of sleep. As we passed him off to Grandma, my heartstrings were strung quite taut. But alas, the show must go on, eh?[2]

The plane ride across the Pond was virtually empty, enabling me to stretch out over an entire row and promptly conk out[3]. The overnight flight to Europe is really the best way to go, and we arrived in London in the morning, somewhat bright eyed and ready to start our day. The sideways rain that greeted us, however, made it impossible to enjoy our 24 hours outside. Lucky for us, we were staying at The Goring, London’s last family-owned boutique hotel, beloved by the Queen, the Middleton’s[4], and now, Wine Esquire. It is nothing but elegance and class. The doormen donning smart bowler hats created a canopy of umbrellas from our Uber to the front door, and the red liveried footmen whisked away our bags lickety split[5].

The Goring, London
The Goring, London

The cozy bar and lounge proved the perfect place to nurse my sniffles with a glass (or three) of the Ayala Brut Majeur, the Goring’s private Cuvée[6], and the extensive Scotch selection kept Husband entertained for a few hours. Filled with overstuffed couches, low leather chairs and a massive fireplace, the Lounge feels like your dear old friend’s living room[7], making it ideal for pre-lunch bubbly, post-dinner Scotch, sweet nightcaps, and of course, a final cuppa tea.

The Goring
Bubbles in the Lounge at the Goring

We did eventually venture out in the rain to eat and drink[8], and our first stop was the famed Gordon’s Wine Bar near Covent Garden. This underground bar has been serving glasses of wine to Londoners for more than 100 years, and is London’s oldest wine bar. Yellowed newspaper clippings about the Queen’s Coronation, her and Phillip’s 25th wedding anniversary, and the official Christening portraits of Prince William and Prince George adorn the cavernous walls[9]. The half bottle of Côtes du Rhône was lovely paired with our gorgeous selection of bread and cheese[10]. Inconveniently, I left my perfectly lovely wide brimmed hat behind, and when I went back to try and retrieve it, I was disappointed to find it had already departed. Ah, woe is me[11].

Wine at Gordon's Wine Bar, London
Half Bottle at Gordon’s

On our way to dinner we made a quick stop to Trafalgar Square[12], one of our favorite locations in London, if not the world. Lord Nelson standing atop his column, overlooking the city, Parliament, Big Ben and the River, with all of England’s treasures in the National Gallery right behind him is a truly awe-inspiring site[13].

We arrived for dinner at Clos Maggiore, which professes to be the world’s most romantic restaurant. It turns out it takes about a year to get a reservation in the Conservatory Room, and though our hotel concierge tried, we were relegated to the small dining area outside the famed flowery chamber[14]

Even without the exquisite ambience of the Conservatory, the restaurant was beautiful. Small, intimate and quite cozy. The menu was tantalizing, with several tasting menu options as well as à la carte dining. We started with the pumpkin soup, topped with toasted pine nuts. Holy Soup! The frothy texture had us licking our lips, and the flavors were out of this world. The chicken leg stuffed with foie gras and truffle was too good for Husband to pass up, and I relished a bit of goat cheese baked in homemade angel hair[15].

wine London
Fine dining with a bottle of Burgundy

The 100+ page wine list featuring more than 2,500 wines was a bit daunting, but Clos Maggiore’s sommelier team is made up of Burgundy lovers, and they conveniently had a list highlighting some of their more affordable options[16]. I chose the 2014 Domaine Lucien Boillot Gevrey Chambertin, and our Sommelier confirmed it would pair well with both of our meals. Light, cherry, lots of leather and beautiful soft tannins. The wine glasses were exquisite in their own right, and it was a truly lovely bottle for my first real red Burgundy.

Wine London Clos Maggiore
Burgundy in London

In an unlikely turn of events, we said no to dessert and headed back out into the London air. The rain continued to hold off and we found ourselves walking along the River Thames[17], admiring the London Eye, and bemoaning the construction that will leave Big Ben hidden under scaffolding for the next few years. We made our way back to The Goring and relaxed in the Lounge for a bit before finally retiring for the night.

London Eye
The London Eye

We breakfasted the next morning in the hotel’s Michelin-starred dining room on a feast of croissants, fruit, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, Lincolnshire ham and of course, English Breakfast Tea. After a quick walk ‘round Buckingham, which is just steps from the hotel, we were off on our way to a weekend at Highclere Castle with our friends Lord and Lady Carnarvon[18]. Fabulous parties ensued.

Highclere Castle Downton Abbey

Until the next glass!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Knock on wood, Little Man has been such a great sleeper from day one. Of course, the day we leave, he ends his months long sleep-through-the-night streak, just in time to properly wear Grandma out!
[2] Seriously though Grandma, we owe you one!
[3] Who needs first class when you’ve got coach to yourself? Mmmmm, I do. British Airways take note: I’m ready for my upgrade on the next leg of the journey!!
[4] They booked the entire hotel for three days before The Wedding, and it’s where Kate spent her last night as a Commoner.
[5] According to David Morgan-Hewitt, the Goring’s legendary managing director, “Everyone has butlers – but people with real style have footmen.” #truth
[6] Served out of a magnum from a large, well-stocked, silver champagne bucket which permanently sits atop the bar.
[7] You know that friend of yours with the lovely London town house with antique furnishings passed down from their great Grandmama? Don’t have one of those? Oh, right, sorry.
[8] Obviously, because #priorities.
[9] Cleary, this is my kind of wine bar. #royal
[10] St. Nectaire, Manchego and Stilton, served on a wooden board with mayonnaise, jelly and pickled onions. Of course. #WineAndCheeseIsLife
[11] I think what this really means is that I need to buy a new hat.
[12] The rain had thankfully stopped, though perhaps this is why I didn’t notice I’d left my hat at Gordon’s. ☹
[13] #InsertPictureHere. But did I take one? No. #amateur
[14] In fact, I chose not to go in to take a look so as not to ruin the beautiful memory we had. We’ll just have to book it out in advance for next time, for we certainly will be back.
[15] The goat cheese was my attempt at eating light given my continued head cold. #fitfam
[16] Alas, we regretfully decided to forego the £23,100 bottle of Romanée-Conti. Maybe next time.
[17] Pronounced “Temz”, not “Thames” like the river at home in Connecticut.
[18] Have you red her blog yet? It’s a lovely insight into daily life at the Castle and such a fun read!

Bubbly, Babies, Christmas Trees and Cigars, Oh My!

Highclere Castle Cigar

I know, I know, we all say it every year, but the holidays REALLY flew by this time. Like, completely disappeared. Maybe it had something to do with having Baby Wine Esquire around, but I didn’t even have time to watch Love Actually. Or Elf. Or It’s A Wonderful Life[1]. I’d like to go back to Thanksgiving and have a do over. Preferably without having to go to work this time. Who’s with me?

Thankfully, I did have some time to drink some wine, change some diapers, sip on some bubbles, change more diapers, and … smoke cigars. Yes, you ready that right. Cigars. Not something I typically do, but Husband’s new venture had me hard-pressed to take a puff. In between sips of course.

Highclere Castle Cigar

Highclere Castle Cigar is a partnership between Husband, Nick Melillo, master cigar blender/ founder of Foundation Cigar Company, and George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, owner of Highclere Castle, also known as the Real Downton Abbey[2].

Quite the unlikely trio, but you never know where life will take you. A few years ago, it took Husband and I across the pond to Highclere to meet Lord Carnarvon and his lovely wife Fiona[3]. I fondly recall our jaunt up to Scotland where the zero-tolerance drinking and driving policy turned me into the designated driver on our tour of Scottish distilleries.

Me.

Driving.

On the wrong side of the road.

On the wrong side of the car.

Let’s just say there were some white-knuckle moments, and a few extra laps around a few wee rotaries. Since that trip, they’ve been working on all manner of projects, including Highclere Castle Gin, the botanicals for which are being grown at Highclere as we speak, and is set to be launched this year, and Highclere Castle Cigar, which was launched this past July.

Highclere Castle Downton Abbey

With Melillo’s cigar genius, they created a cigar reminiscent of those that would have been smoked at Highclere at the turn of the century. Cigars have long been part of life at Highclere, with the family importing cigars to the castle by the hundreds, while also keeping a well-stocked humidor at The Ritz in London.

It turns out cigars go very well with red wine, and even bubbly[4]. Now I’m in no way a cigar connoisseur, but I got some serious tobacco on the nose of these babies. I think I’m just about ready to start a cigar blog[5]. No but seriously, people with legit cigar blogs have been loving the way these babies smoke. And for not being a cigar smoker, or a smoker of any kind, the puffs I puffed were magically smooth and delicious.

Highclere Castle Cigar

As for the bubbles, I had a bit more luck in picking out some flavors there. So far, my favorite of the season has been Santa Julia’s Blanc de Blanc, an organic sparkling Chardonnay from Mendoza, Argentina. Bready with a hint of honey, this was the perfect start to our Christmas Eve soirée. The ultra-fine bubbles paired rather well with the delectable selection of cheeses Mother-in-Law gifted me[6]. And for bubbly under $15, this is a serious must have.

Santa Julia Blanc de Blanc

Blanc de Blanc translates to “white from whites” and is used to describe sparkling wines made purely from white grapes, most frequently Chardonnay. I’ve been enjoying Blanc de Blancs for years without knowing this. It’s really true that you learn something new every day.

As for babies and Christmas trees, I really just added that to the title so I could share this shot with you. Isn’t he precious?[7]

Baby Wine Esquire
Babies Love Christmas Trees

Until the next glass my friends, Cheers! Oh, and Happy New Year! Can’t wait to celebrate with you all, one new bottle at a time!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] The list goes on and on. But I am watching White Christmas as I write this. Better late than never.
[2] Where my Downton fans at? They sorta kinda just announced the movie, I’m so excited! #spoileralert Little Sissy is still heartbroken about Matthew and refuses to watch after Season 3.

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle
The Red Couch!

[3] And yes, I got to sit on THE red couch! AND see Mary and Matthew’s bench!

Downton Abbey Highclere Castle
Their Bench!

[4] But honestly, what DOESN’T go with bubbly?
[5] Just kidding. The cigar aficionados of the world take these sticks seriously, and they love to Instagram their smokes almost as much as us winos!
[6] Because cheese is ALWAYS the right thing to give at Christmas! Such a good idea!
[7] #SantaSuitForTheWin