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Piedmont Palate

Everyone knows Tuscany and her Chianti. The Veneto has some of the most popular wines drunk in America, Pinot Grigio, Soave, Prosecco. Puglia is the largest bulk producer in Italy with many of her wines becoming more and more popular such as Primitivo. Even Abruzzo is gaining some traction with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It seems, however, that Piedmont gets short shrift in this area.

 

Piedmont, whose name literally means foot of the mountains, is at the north-west corner of the country. Amongst serious wine enthusiasts, Piedmont has long been known for some of the greatest wines Italy has to offer, Barolo and Barbaresco. Both wines are known for their power and ageability, but are in the upper echelons when it comes to price.

 

Admittedly, there are very expensive Chiantis but there are also many very good ones under fifteen dollars. It is a challenge to find a drinkable Barolo for less than fifty dollars and many are sold in the many hundreds of dollars range. What about wine for the rest of us without the winning Billion Dollar Bracket? It is for us the following wines exist.

 

Enter Barbera. Not Barbara, no Jeannie here. Barbera was once known as ‘the people’s wine’ due to its versatility and abundant production as it is the third most planted dark skin varietal in Italy. It can produce a dazzling variety of wines from light, bright wines brimming with wonderful acidity and cherry notes to examples with more dark fruit characteristics and oak that require cellaring. The best part is that it is easy to differentiate between the styles. Under $16 no oak and lighter, over $16 bigger wine with oak. Simple!

 

The reason there is so much Barbera is that all of the best spots in Piedmont are covered with Nebbiolo, the grape used in the production of Barolo and Barbaresco. The lesser sights are planted to Barbera and Dolcetto whose name means little sweet one. While the lighter style Barbera and Dolcetto are my go tos for lighter tomato based dishes, the whites from Piedmont shine with seafood. The high acidity and delicacy help wash away the grease of frito misto without overpowering the delicate interiors.

 

Find these wines highlighted in our new “Tour of Wine” section. With them you will find recipes to pair perfectly with each.

 

WinePaitin Elisa Roero Arneis, The nose shows bakery-like aromas of sweet almond and springtime honeysuckle. This is a full-bodied version of Arneis, probably because of extended sur lie aging, yet it’s a fine-boned wine. The palate shows white – yellow fruits in an almost tropical fashion…all the beautiful qualities you look for in a perfect white wine. Only 16.99!!!

 

WinePaolo Manzone Dolcetto d’Alba, The color is an intense ruby red, with purple reflections. The nose has a rich floral scent that is reminiscent of berries, which carries through to the palate. Just 16.99!!!

 

WineCascina Ballarin, Cino, Langhe Rosso, Made from the three classic grapes of Piedmont: the noble, elegant, and penetrating Nebbiolo, the powerful Barbera, and the fruity Dolcetto. The wine comes from favored vineyards and old vines (up to 40 years old). The result is an amazing bargain: lush fruit made in a clean, snappy style that refreshes without sacrificing nuance and complexity. 
Only 13.99!!!

 

 

~ Randy Freeland ~

 

Prices good through 5/13/15.

The Hunt

The dawn light crests the horizon as the intrepid hunters wipe the sleep from their eyes, contemplating the revelry to come. The proud sportsmen don their finery in preparation of the morning’s chase and keep their thoughts on the prize awaiting them. Arrival at the storied meadows where this ritual has been performed for time immemorial is joined by a cacophony of participants and spectators. The sound of hounds baying in the background adds to the excitement. The moment is here and the revelers are aflame with anticipation of the moments soon approaching in which they shall bound through the wilderness before them in search of their quarry.

 

The game is afoot and the well-heeled huntsmen dart forth in search of their prey. Some will be greatly rewarded and some will fall, there will be jubilant shouts and cries of tired desperation as the remaining spoils are quickly rounded up by those who have long trained in this fine art. All for the gift of a brightly…colored…egg.

 

A little dramatic, but, how serious do your kids take it? The main thing is that now you have a bunch of cooked eggs just waiting for the application of dozens of recipes reserved for just this occasion. The one theme that can tie all of the disparate methods of preparation together is Bubbly. Call it sparkling wine, bubbly, Cava, Prosecco or true Champagne, they can all contribute to that one drink at which no one bats an eye, the Mimosa. Pour one dram of Scotch over a cube at breakfast and risk an intervention, but add a little orange juice to your sparkling wine and now it is brunch.

 

According to the International Bartender’s Association (IBA) the official recipe for the Mimosa calls for mixing equal parts Champagne and orange juice. A similar drink uses two parts OJ and one part Champagne and is known as a Buck’s Fizz. Both were invented in the early 1920’s and this has led to speculation as to which is the original. Either way, both are delicious ways to observe a hunt as well as perfect to wash down the spoils.

 

WineOn the way to your hunt be sure and stop by Bubbles and pick up Mom’s Morning Mimosa. A bottle of Col Solivo Prosecco, an equal sized Orange juice, 2 champagne glasses (in case she lets Dad have some), all packaged in a pretty little Easter basket just for her. Remember, candy is dandy but Wine is Fine!!! Sale 10.99!!!

 

 

 

~ Randy Freeland ~

 

Price good through 4/8/15.

All About Alenjejo

WineWhen I was contemplating our wines for our new Tour of Wine section this month I had just finished shoveling a bunch of newly fallen snow and was thinking back to my time in Southern Portugal in the region Alentejo. This region makes some great wines but is vital to the wine industry for another reason. It is home to around 50% of the world’s cork production.

 

As one can see in the picture, this is a rather arid, warm region. Perfect for fond reminiscences whilst standing in 8 inches of freshly fallen snow. While there I was able to taste some of the best wines Southern Portugal has to offer. Many people are unaware of Portuguese wine for the same reason that we are ignorant of much Spanish wine; we are unfamiliar with the grapes.

 

Portugal is home to thousands of indigenous grape varietals that are unknown in the rest of the world. Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Arinto, Antão Vaz. The first two grapes have most likely been enjoyed by many of us as they are two of the main grapes used in the production of Port. The last two are white grapes and are understandably foreign sounding as, until very recently, the only Portuguese wine exported in any quantity was Port.

 

The factors that can make the landscape seem so desolate are exactly why grapes do so well there, lots of sunshine, poor soil and arid conditions. Perfect for stressing the grapes and bringing out the best they have to offer. Because of these conditions the reds get ripe and lush while the cooler nights help the whites retain their lip smacking acidity.

 

Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from trying some truly great wines. Check out some of these selections with the specially chosen recipes available on the Tour of Wine display:

 

WineEsporão Touriga Nacional: if you are a Cab lover than this is your wine. The intense, deep purple color is a good indicator of what is to come. Rich ripe fruit and violets fill the nose while the supple tannins and lush mouthfeel invite you to try this wine with an equally rich dish such as the Slow Cooker Paprika Beef recipe we have chosen to pair with this mouthful of a wine. Just 34.99!!!

 

WineAlento Red: Predominantly produced from Portuguese grape varietals typical of this region, the ALENTO RED is garnet in color, with an intense aroma of red berries, well balanced and fresh. Should be drunk young. Perfect with the Risotto Stuffed Mushroom recipe available in store. Only 13.99!!!

 

WineAlandra Branco: This dry white is made from a selection of indigenous Portuguese grape varieties under the expert supervision of Australian David Baverstock. It is floral, fragrant and delicate, with lime and citrus aromas enhancing a fresh and fruity palate. Pairs exceptionally well with the Brandade we have chosen. 
Just 8.99!!!

 

 

~ Randy Freeland ~

 

Prices good through 3/25/15.

Arsenic Awareness

 

Over the last week we have had numerous people asking about the recent reports of arsenic in wines and in many instances, returning some of their purchases. I thought it would be prudent to offer some insight into some of these claims. While decisions on what one puts into one’s body are yours and yours alone to make, I believe these decisions should be made with all of the available information. Unfortunately, all of the information doesn’t make very good tabloid news reporting which is the type of reporting the vast majority of news outlets in our country give us. They have to sell ad space and commercial time.

 

First of all, arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical that is present in many of the foods we eat such as apple juice, brown rice, chicken, fish and beer. Many women who have dealt with pregnancies know that there are several foods they should avoid eating in large amounts due to this and other heavy metals (not Twisted Sister, a different type of Heavy Metal). Arsenic occurs naturally in many soils, but can also build up as a side effect of pesticide application. It can also be found in Bentonite which is a type of mineral used in the clarification process at a large number of wineries.

 

Next, there is no Federal or State standard for allowable levels of Arsenic in wine. The report states that the lab in question found Arsenic in levels up to 50 Parts per Billion which is higher than allowed in a municipal water supply. This means that these producers have done nothing illegal or wrong at all. In the European Union, there are regulations for Arsenic in wine. They allow up to 200 ppb, nearly 4 times the level found in the wines in question. This means, these producers could sell their products in Europe as “Arsenic Reduced” wine if there was such a category.

 

In my estimation, this is just a matter of fear mongering at its worst. The lab in question is trying to make a name for themselves at the expense of the public peace of mind. We at Bubbles are dedicated to expanding our customer’s enjoyment of all adult beverages through education and responsible sales. We are always more than happy to answer any questions our valued customers may have. If we don’t know the answer we are more than happy to do the research to find out. It is this level of service that we believe sets us apart from any and all competitors including the out of state chains that are attempting to infiltrate our fine state. Thanks for your patronage.

 

~ Randy Freeland ~

Not Just St. Patrick

Admittedly, this coming week we will all be turning a little Irish and consuming way more green beer than we probably should. The Irish Car Bombs will be exploding and the Irish Whisky will be flowing freely to celebrate the Patron Saint of the Isle of Eire. Unfortunately, it would seem that not only did this saint chase out all of the snakes (my wife would be very grateful); he seems to have run off with all of the grapes too as there is no such thing as Irish wine. So for you oenophiles out there, let us look to another saint, Saint Emilion.

 

While the Saint Emilion to which I refer is not listed in the Roman Catholic Cannon of Saints, it is very important. I am referring to a town on the right bank Bordeaux named after a travelling confessor monk who settled there in the 8th century. This town is, quite possibly, one of the prettiest towns in France to visit as it is surrounded by picturesque ancient walls. It is a UNESCO world heritage site as its steep and winding streets are crowded with ancient ruins and Romanesque cathedrals.

 

More importantly, this Saint Emilion is home to some of the greatest wines on the right bank. Now that I have used the term “Right Bank” twice I should explain what the heck that means. The region of Bordeaux is split in two by the Gironde Estuary. In nautical terms the banks are assigned according to which side they are on as you travel downstream. Since the Gironde Estuary heads in a generally western direction, the right bank is on the Northern side. The right bank, home of Pommerol and St. Emilion and the Left bank, home of the 1855 classification and the most famous Bordeaux such as Lafite and Latour.

 

While the right bank did get snubbed in 1855 when the famous classification was made, it makes lots of great wines based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc. These grapes are used instead of the Cabernet Sauvignon used on the Left Bank due to their love of the clay and sandy soils of the Right bank as opposed to the gravel on the left. I understand that the movie “Sideways” has soured many to Merlot, but the big joke of the movie is at the end when Miles uncorks his favorite wine, a Right Bank, Merlot based wine. One of the most expensive wines in the world upon release, Chateau Petrus, is almost entirely Merlot.

 

It is in honor of this great saint and to try to win back some Merlot fans that St. Emilion is one of our wine regions of the month. Be sure and check our “Tour of Wine” section for some great choices from one of my favorite saints.

 

WineChateau La Croix Meunier: The first peces of this small vineyard were acquired around 1840, and are located on old sands west of village of Saint-Emilion, near Château Figeac and of Château Cheval Blanc. Crimson robed, superb, with truffle notes of a great harmony, heavily scented with a well balanced mellowness. Generous and persistent developing aromas of musk and morello cherry, with coated but rich tannins, quite fleshy. Just 23.99!!

 

WineChateau Teyssier: This Château dates back to te middle Ages, when the monks were just starting to plant vines. It was in 1929 that the Le Collen Family, later the Moysson-Le Collen family, purchased it. Fresh and pure with succulent raspberry, cherry and blood orange notes showing solid cut and leading to a spice tinged finish that successfully harnesses the vintage’s taut side. Only 35.99!!!

 

 

~ Randy Freeland ~

 

Prices good through 3/18/15.

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