FINDING YOUR FAVORITE CIDER…

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FINDING YOUR FAVORITE CIDER…

Ciders seem like something new, but they have been around for centuries. In fact, cider was once the favorite drink of of the early settlers and colonists, from the arrival of the pilgrims (cider equipment was on board the Mayflower) and well into the 1800s. And then, after some decades of diminishing interest as beer and whiskey became more popular, Prohibition struck a near fatal blow.

The beer and whiskey industries were (eventually) able to recover from Prohibition, but cider wasn’t - for one distinct reason: There were fewer cider apple trees left standing. The best apples for making cider are known as “spitters” because they are so bitter in taste. If temperance fanatics hadn’t burned these spitter cider apple trees down, farmers came along and uprooted them to make way for dessert apples and other fruits. It can take years if not decades for newly planted cider apple trees to become viable, making many modern farmers loath to invest.

But, now, thank goodness, ciders are back! The variety available various and vast and can be mind-boggling. We hope this little overview helps you choose ciders you enjoy right from the first sip.

New World: Modern Ciders in the U.S.

Ciders available in packaging similar to craft beer - 12oz or 22oz bottles, 12oz or 16oz cans, and on draft - typically fall into this category. Modern ciders are produced in large quantities and sold at tempting prices, often in line with what you’d pay for craft beer. And these modern ciders are often refreshing and easy to drink.

Some modern ciders are made with apple juice concentrate (Angry Orchard, for example), either from domestic or imported sources. Others are made with juice from commonly grown apple varieties usually intended for eating such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, McIntosh and Jonathan. These apples may be too blemished or misshapen to be sold in a grocery store, but they are fine for making juice. The juice might be pressed from recently harvested apples, or the juice could be pressed from apples kept in refrigerated or controlled-atmosphere storage; in this way, modern ciders can be made year-round, like beer.

Modern ciders often have an intense apple aroma. They will typically be medium-sweet to very sweet, even if the label claims the cider is dry or off-dry. Carbonation will often be medium to high, similar to beer.

Many cidermakers use these types of cider as a base to which they can add other flavors: Pears, apricots, cherries, peaches, and various berries can be added to create a fruit cider. Hops can be added to create a hopped cider. Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and other spices can be added to create a mulled cider. The results of such mixing can be interesting.

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New World: Traditional Ciders in the U.S.

Ciders available in packaging similar to wine - 750ml bottles are standard but 500ml and 375ml bottles are also used - typically fall into this category. These ciders are often inspired by Old World traditions, but can possess their own New World flair. Traditional ciders are usually produced on a smaller scale than modern ciders and command prices on par with many wines. And traditional ciders often pair well with food and are typically more complex than modern ciders.

These traditional ciders are typically made just once a year, from apples pressed soon after the fall harvest, similar to a wine vintage. Blending different varieties to produce a balanced cider is an art much to be admired!

Few traditional ciders will be overtly sweet. Bone-dry to off-dry is common, medium and semi-sweet less so. Apple aroma can range from subtle to easily detectable. Acidity - a common element of the “finish” in wine - is necessary to render the cider good for pairing with food, while tannins add mouthfeel and complexity, even when present in only small amounts. Yeast character is typically neutral. Carbonation can range from still to sparkling, though most traditional ciders are less carbonated than modern ciders.

And somewhere beyond and in between…

Newburgh’s own Graft cidery, located on Ann Street, is typical of a newer trend, which is the making of ciders that are anything but typical! Innovation is the key here, as tart goes and sour, salty, funky, non-traditional ciders are made in small batches for daring sippers and connoisseurs. This may be the more exciting category of new world ciders and Newburgh, with Graft, is right at the center of the excitement. Next time you’re having shellfish and come into Palate for a wine to pair with your meal, don’t be surprised if Steve starts touting Graft’s “Salt and Sand” as an ideal pairing.

Old World: Europe

European ciders are still not widely available in most North American markets, though we are getting a nice selection built up here at Palate. And enterprising beer, wine, and cider importers are bringing more shipments across the Atlantic all the time.

If you enjoy complex aromas and bold flavors, ciders from England, France or Spain might be to your liking. While these cidermaking traditions are very different from one another in many respects, they do share one important trait: Old World ciders typically use naturally occuring yeast that can be found on the fruit itself, on the milling and presssing equipment, and inside the fermentation vessels. This type of fermentation - referred to as wild or spontaneous fermentation - results in a markedly different flavor profile than cider made with yeasts that have been cultured in a laboratory.

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France

If you have a bit of a sweet tooth but still crave balance and complexity, ciders made in Normandy and Brittany are worth a taste. Using techniques similar to those winemakers use in Mosel, Germany to retain a balance of acid and residual sugars in their Rieslings, cidermakers in France use a technique called keeving that arrests the fermentation process before the yeast can convert all the natural sugars to alcohol. These sparkling ciders are packaged in strong glass bottles topped with a cork and cage, like champagne. Ciders labeled as Brut are the driest, but will almost always be somewhat sweeter than many dry ciders from other cidermaking regions. French ciders labelled as Demi-Sec or Doux will be sweeter still.

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England

If you enjoy cider a bit drier and more austere, ciders made in England may be a good choice. As with French ciders, most English ciders use tannic apple varieties known as bittersweets and bittersharps that contribute a pleasant astringency and bitterness to the finished cider. The dominant aroma and flavor notes are often spice, smoke, or, in some cases, a funkiness sometimes labelled “barnyard”. The mouthfeel will be similar to that of red wine. Some bottled English ciders are still, but modest carbonation is more common.

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Spain

If you enjoy your cider on the funky side, ciders made in Asturias and the Basque Country are worth a look. Sour beer lovers in particular will find much to like in this category. Traditional “sidra natural” is typically packaged in a 700ml or 750ml green bottle with a visible layer of sediment resting at the bottom. Unwary drinkers often try “sidra natural” and immediately turn up their noses. But when poured correctly - from as far above the glass as one dares and just a mouthful or two at a time - the vinegar taste vanishes and a refreshing cider emerges. Of note is that some of the best Spanish ciders will more closely resemble traditional New World ciders, though usually with more complexity and funk.

And finally

There are ciders from many more countries and regions, but they are going to resemble - in taste, funkiness, dryness or sweetness, carbonation, etc. - those of the countries mentioned above. Also, even within a small region, or from a single cidermaker, there may be wide variation in the cider products that are available. In the U.S. - just in New York, in fact - ciders and cider makers are as wide-ranging and various as craft beer makers. The fun comes with finding a few ciders you really enjoy and then experimenting with others to broaden your palate. As you gain in your knowledge and appreciation of ciders, you can start choosing which ones might be best to pair - like wine - with certain foods. But pairing is another subject altogether…

If you have any questions, suggestions or whatever, please write them in the comments here and we will do our best to respond in a timely fashion. See you at the shop!

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The Day of Hearts

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The Day of Hearts

Who's your queen of hearts?  The day approaches for full recognition... of the queen or the king! 

We know the usuals: Bouquets from Jenny' florist on Liberty St. Or chocolates from Commadore on Broadway, dinner at Liberty St bistro or elsewhere. But the gift that stimulates the senses, tickles the tastebuds and lingers with a fine finish is wine. And where can you find a better wine environment than at Palate Wines & Spirits? Valentine's Day is one of the days in the year that we may spend a bit more for the person who means more to us, so let me offer you two of our top rated jewels in the crown.

Francois Confuron Gindre Vosne-Romanee  Premier Cru Les Chaumes 2015, This Côte de Nuits is rated as one of the best in its  category by Wine Spectator- 89 out of 100 points. These Côte de Nuits, from the Vognes Romanee appellation are highly prized Burgundies. Vinted  from 100 percent Pinot Noir they are known for their finesse and velvety warmth with a suggestion of spice. As an old textbook on wine points out: "there are no common wines in Vosne-Romanee". This is a noble wine at a noble price, but we are giving it a 10 percent discount from Feb. 12th through the 14th. Discounted price: $88.16 + tax.

Perspires de Juvenal 2015 is a very selective Côte du Rhone 100 percent Grenache. It has consistently been rated at 4 stars. This is a tour de force wine harvested from carefully watched vines, handpicked using only the premium grapes. It,is,then stored in stainless steel vats. Just under 300 cases are bottled so it is a rare, un duplicated wine. It offers an incredible bouquet of jammy blackberries, spring flowers and a hint of licorice. Full bodies, voluptuous and well rounded, this wine has been called "sexy", a wine that can knock your socks off. What better wine for Valentines Day to serve alongside a prime steak. Don't miss it. Discounted price: $49.46 + tax.

And remember during the above dates all our wines are 10 percent off and all our red label wines are 15 percent off, so come in and talk to us about the joys of wine. And walk out with something extraordinary for a singular person in your life.

Yaakov

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10 GREAT STOCKING STUFFERS for $25 OR LESS!

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10 GREAT STOCKING STUFFERS for $25 OR LESS!

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ESCUBAC Liqueur   375ml   $23.95

This botanical spirit from London’s Sweetdram, while still relatively under the radar, is easily one of the favorite new spirits on the market for cocktail enthusiasts. The gin-like (but decidedly not gin) spirit, which is made with a bevy of botanicals but no juniper, has “broken the mold,” and is quite unique. While the spirit is tough to pigeonhole into an existing category, it’s highly drinkable and versatile as a base spirit, modifier, or “secret ingredient” in cocktails.

LA FLEUR D’OR Sauternes 2014   375ml   $19.95

Sauternes is a highly regarded sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux, France. This particular bottling comes to us from famed negociant and Sauternes expert, Bill Blatch. Since 1995, Bill has used his enviable list of contacts in Sauternes to make La Fleur d’Or. He buys top-notch parcels of wine from small, lesser known properties as well as from some well-known chateaux and ages them in French oak.

LA RAGE DU SOLEIL Mas Peyre   500ml   $22.95

The Maury "Rage of the Sun" is a natural sweet fortified wine that has a bright red robe and crisp late harvest fruit aromas. Made from 100% Grenache noir grapes from old vines (80 to 100 years old) that are located on the arid hillsides south of St Paul de Vence, France, near the Mediterranean coast. This dessert wine is Solera aged from 2003 to 2008 and then barrel aged until January 2017. Wonderful as a digestif with chocolate or by itself.

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ESPODOL Solera Garnatxa   750ml   $23.95

Despite the relatively low price, this fortified wine has many similarities to higher end sherry, especially the moderately sweet Oloroso style. The wines in the solera vats used here date back to the early 1960’s, giving this silky wine a hint of great age. The grapes used are Grenache Blanc and Rosada, making this shelf-stable (meaning it won’t change over time once it has been opened) delight both rich and yet light on its feet.

BROADBAND RESERVE 5 Year Old Madeira   750ML   $25.00 

With its dark gold color and sweet, nutty aromas, this is on the rich side (as distinct from the dry side) of the Madeira taste spectrum. It has attractive fruitiness and aged citrus acidity that are well balanced, leaving a wine that is both sweet but also fresh. Like the Espodol above, the process by which this fortified wine is made includes oxidations, which renders Madeira shelf-stable so it can be opened and enjoyed over a long period of time, even years.

COCCHI Vermouth di Torino   750ml  $23.95

This is a remarkably complex, full-flavored aperitif wine that can be sipped straight up, over ice with an orange twist or used to add a special layer of goodness to cocktails. Aromas of singed orange peel, vanilla and caramel lead eventually to a hint of menthol as well as of dandelion and burdock. The finish is very clean and refreshing. What sets this vermouth apart is the whistle-clean fruitiness, with no harshness. Pitch-perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness.

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DOMAINE DU CHALET POUILLY 2015 Saint-Véran   750ml   $22.95   

This renown white Burgundy is a ripe, creamy wine. It is all fruit: ripe apples and sweet pears, but with a hint of stony minerality as well. There is a fine touch of spice as well as attractive acidity. It may be young but it is certainly ready to enjoy for its rich fruit. The producer's vineyards lie under the dramatic cliff of Solutré in Saint-Véran, Burgundy, France. A delicate but precise Saint-Veran with a tang of salinity on the finish that draws you back.

CASCINA DEL TORCC 2012 Barolo   750ml   $24.95

The first of two Barolos we’re offering at the unheard of price of $24.95. This one is an easy drinking, light, 100% Nebbiolo wine that benefits from decanting for an hour or so before drinking. Tart cherries, red fruit and violets. On the palate, acidity and tannins are in good balance and the finish is of moderate length. A sharp note makes it a good pairing with many cheeses, red sauce and much else. An easy, approachable and enjoyable Barolo.

CANTINA TERRE DEL BAROLO 2012 Barolo   750ml   $24.95

The second of two Barolos we’re offering at the unheard of price of $24.95. The fragrant nose offers aromas of rose petal, herbs and camphor with a bit of underbrush and stewed prune. The full-bodied monolithic palate offers cranberry, morello cherry, star anise and the warmth of alcohol alongside solid tannins. This is big and rather straightforward for Barolo. The solid structure should make this wine good for cellaring through 2022 or so.

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WINE FOLLY: The Essential Guide to Wine   230 pages   $25.00

The website winefolly.com is an award-winning, essential online resource for learning about wine, attracting hundreds of thousands beginners and professionals. In their long-awaited book, the creators of the website offer a fresh, totally accessible guide to wine that combines sleep data visualization and understand-in-an-instant graphics. A great guide for the beginning wine connoisseur and a great quick reference for wine drinkers with long, deep experience.

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Something New for the Holidays

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Something New for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is soon to be here and families will be celebrating it in many different ways. For many of us it is a holiday of tradition (in mine it would not be Thanksgiving without mashed rutabaga with lots of butter, salt and pepper). For some, it means just a casual meal, kicking back and enjoying a Bud. For others, it is more formal, but whatever the tradition is, it is always a pleasure to try something new.

In my last blog, I wrote about the differences between aperitifs and digestifs. This time I want to provide you with some news on particular ones which we carry and which would enhance your festive meal. 

As guests arrive, start them off with a small glass of our Dolin Dry White Vermouth ($19). Pour it  chilled on the rocks with a lemon twist.

Or sip away with the new palate pleasure, the Italian Cardamaro ($22.95) . This distinguished ancient recipe comes from the Piedmont region and has a vinho amaro as its base which is the infused with cardoons, a thistle like vegetable found on many Italian and French tables where it is prepared au gratin. Along with other botanicals, it is then rested in oak for at least six months.  It is an intriguing blend on the palate of a light sweetness combined with an appetite stimulating bitterness. Great as an aperitif for opening the palate for a fine meal.

Our Cappelleti Pasubio ($22.95) will  not only bring out comments on what is in the bottle but the label as well. A really beautiful graphic. This aperitif comes from the mountains of northeast Italy, from Trentino near to Austria. It carries flavors of pine, blueberry and alpine herbs which lend a real sense of place to this drink. Pasubio' s deep rich flavors, combined  with a hint of bitterness along with its lush texture are a result of its preparation with a wine base.

As for digestifs, try our Broadbent Madeira 5 yr. aged reserve ($25) or our Ferreira Vintage 2011 Port ($55) or Dona Antonia Reserve Tawny ($19.00). We also just brought in the monarch of dessert wines, a fine La Fleur D'Or 2014 Sauternes 375  ml ($19.95). Great with dessert or a good blue cheese. Sip slowly and enjoy.

I hope to see you in the coming weeks to introduce to even more of our new aperitifs and digestifs. Have a wonder November and December time!

Yaakov

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WHAT DETERMINES THE PRICE OF A BOTTLE OF WINE?

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WHAT DETERMINES THE PRICE OF A BOTTLE OF WINE?

At Palate Wines & Spirits, we offer bottles of wine that range in price from $8.95 to $97.95. Is the latter bottle ten times better than the former? Very likely, yes, and there are probably hundreds of justifications for such differences in price, but I’m going to focus on just a few.

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Expensive wines are usually expensive for two reasons. Above all, expensive wines cost more to make. The raw materials can vary significantly in cost. As an example, consider this: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of a ton of Napa Valley grapes was $3,684 in 2013, while the cost of a ton of grapes from California’s Central Valley (where most $10 Cali Cab comes from) was a mere $340 per ton that same year. 

For some wines, like reds from Bordeaux and Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, barrel aging is essential to developing complex flavors and structure. New barrels can cost as much as $2,600 each and store only about 300 bottles of wine each. According to Jeanette Tan of QB Winery Solutions, an accountant for several small wineries, barrels also take up four times as much space as steel tanks holding the same amount of wine. And every year a wine is held in cask, it is taxed.

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It’s also worth noting that the price of an expensive bottle of wine doesn’t mean there’s some billionaire from Napa or Tuscany at the top, gouging you with a smirk on his well-moisturized face; much more likely, that expensive bottle comes from a husband and wife team with kids to take care of, or the son or daughter who took over the family vineyards. Many great wines - most, in fact - are made from hand-selected grapes, harvested on just the right days, and handled directly from crushing and fermentation through bottling. 

Finally, the selection process for some wines is so focused, and the section of the vineyard where particular grapes grow best is so small; and the grapes so difficult to grow and maintain, that very little wine from that particular harvest gets made. And, of course, the weather from some years is ideal, making that vintage highly sought after. And whenever there is high demand for a small supply, prices soar.

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Will you prefer a $100 bottle of wine to a $15 bottle? Probably, but maybe not. Still, if you ever have the opportunity to try fine, rare wines - whether you can afford them or not - do so. A glass of wine from a great vinter and a great vintage is one of life’s truly awesome pleasures!

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How can you help California wineries after the wildfires?

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How can you help California wineries after the wildfires?

Buy California wines!

A report by rating agency Moody’s projects that the California wildfires, which have caused 42 deaths, destroyed nearly 8,000 buildings and burnt more than 210,000 acres, will cost California $4.6 billion. And that’s a preliminary projection the agency expects to rise.

Despite all the bad news, California vintners have a message they want wine lovers to hear. “The wine industry is OK,” said Gladys Horiuchi of the Wine Institute, an advocacy group that represents more than 1,000 wineries in California.

Not great, but OK. Most vinters had their grapes harvested and stored before the fires, but the fires’ aftermath will affect the wine industry in many ways, some subtle and some obvious, for years to come.

The best way to help the California vineyards and wineries may be as simple as buying their wines. Here at Palate, we have many California wines in stock for you to choose from. 

They get the sales they need to recover, we get the sales necessary to keep our stock abundant and you get the wines to take home - A win-win scenario if there ever was one!

 A sampling of our California wines.

A sampling of our California wines.

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Before or After?

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Before or After?

Apéritif vs digéstif: Vive la difference!

What exactly is the difference between the two? 

“Apéritif” comes from the Latin “to open” and that is what it is meant to do, to open your appetite before you start a fine meal, to whet the appetite and increase your enjoyment.

A digéstif is meant to do just the opposite; to help you digest that fine meal and soothe the stomach. Is there a difference in the content of these two befores and afters? Yes, indeed. 

An apéritif is usually dry since sugar limits the appetite and the alcohol level is lower since too high an alcohol content can get you sloshed and you don’t want that before a well prepared meal. That would be rude and would make you an insufferable bore at the table. It also dulls the taste buds which you want in high gear as you appreciate what is served.  Apéritifs are often wine based (vino amaro) to which herbs and spices have been infused, so they can have a hint of bitterness.  Think of vermouth or come into Palate and be introduced to our new line of fine French and Italian aperitifs.

Digéstifs, on the other hand, are for sipping while relaxing after that holiday or special occasion meal.  At this point in the evening, you want something a bit sweeter with a higher alcohol content. Digestifs can offer a wonderful, complex blends of herbs found in the Alps. They are often aged in oak barrels. This is the time in the evening to raise a glass of port or sherry or one of our newly arrived elixirs, ie. Genepy des Alpes, which is a cousin of absinthe or Chartreuse, or our Italian Cardamaro, which is distilled with cardoons.

 Let us introduce you to these drinks that will offer something exciting to your holiday table.  Both apéritifs and digéstifs should be sipped well chilled though not with ice. Remember they are for sipping and not guzzling.

Stay tuned for a soon to come specific introduction to our line of both of the above which will distinguish the differences in these wonderful beverages.  Take note also of the gorgeous labels on the bottles.  And of course don’t forgetour ever growing line of fine wines for the coming holidays. A bientôt,

Yaakov

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WHAT TO GET FOR FATHER’S DAY, PART 2: THE MIGHTY MANHATTAN

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WHAT TO GET FOR FATHER’S DAY, PART 2: THE MIGHTY MANHATTAN

Know a dad who likes to drink Manhattans? Well, save some money and up your reputation for great gift-giving with this combo of excellent local, limited edition Rye or Bourbon (Taconic Founder’s Rye or Taconic Straight Bourbon Whiskey) and an incredibly well-made vermouth (Dolin Rouge). Father’s Day special: $61.99 for both bottles! 

TACONIC STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY: Tasting Notes from ‘Hudson Valley Magazine’

Voted “Best Bourbon” of the Hudson Valley by HV Magazine, Dutchess Private Reserve “has a lovely coppery color to it, or maybe like a gorgeous amber maple syrup. It starts off with a wonderful baked quality like cookies in the oven, butter, butterscotch, cookie dough, honey, vanilla, and lots of spice. It got a little bit of a bite up front, but goes down incredibly smoothly without a lot of burn. And it’s definitely not as sweet as it smells. In fact, it’s a beautiful, elegant, wonderful bourbon. Fantastic! Move over everyone, the valley now has yet another superior bourbon!” Manhattans made with bourbon pack more punch and offer less spice on the nose and palate, making for a beautifully rounded, powerful cocktail when mixed with Dolin Rouge.

TACONIC FOUNDER’S RYE WHISKEY: Tasting Notes from ‘The Whiskey Reviewer’

“Where other young ryes are redolent of dried banana, Founder’s Rye presents an uncharacteristic twist: banana pudding. One might therefore expect a particular smoothness to this 90 Proof rye. It doesn’t disappoint. An undercurrent of woodiness and spice gets under the tongue and tends to command the flavor, but it’s the rye’s mild sweetness, like summer fruit just before full ripeness, that glides it along. The finish is clean and even smoother, as fresh bananas and watermelon sourballs linger into a mild, mellow finish. This is a fine sipping Rye, and a wonderful addition to the expanding variety of young Rye whiskeys coming from America’s small, independent distillers.” 

DOLIN VERMOUTH DE CHAMBERY ROUGE reviewed by ‘The Speakista'

“The Dolin Rouge earns a solid 4 stars, if not 4 ¼ stars (out of five stars). It is a fine product and worthy for use. The Carpano [Antica, at more than twice the price] comes right at you with a lush cabernet type mouth feel and an almost aged port like presence. The floral and botanical notes are heavy on the palate the bitterness is strong, grows and lingers nicely on the after palate. The Dolin is a different actor playing the same role. Lighter in texture and consistency, it has a more brandy-like quality to it. The botanical notes are lighter and more subdued but still present on the palate. What is striking about this vermouth is the strong dried fruit character of its flavor profile — raisins, currants and dried cherries all seem to come forth. Whereas the Carpano is skewed to the less sweet side of the spectrum, the Rouge registers more in the middle to slightly higher sweetness category. Yet the sweetness is not sugary but rather a rich ‘honey-like’ sweetness that taken with the dried fruit notes is quite alluring.”

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WHAT TO GET FOR FATHER’S DAY, PART 1: MARTINI SURPRISE

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WHAT TO GET FOR FATHER’S DAY, PART 1: MARTINI SURPRISE

Know a dad who likes martinis? Well, save some money and blow his mind with this combo of exquisite gin (Costswolds Dry) and an incredibly well-made vermouth (Dolin Dry or Dolin Blanc). Father’s Day special: $61.99 for both bottles! 

COTSWOLDS DRY GIN: Tasting Notes from ‘THE GIN FOUNDRY

Fresh grapefruit citrus and floral lavender bursts forth, slapping us right round the nostrils. It’s dominating, but juniper is clearly discernible in the shadows, bringing a pine forest feel and a deep, resinous quality feel.

Sweet grapefruit, lavender and angelica tickle the tongue, but black pepper takes a somewhat Fifty Shades of Grey approach here, dominating all other botanicals and lighting a fire in the palate. Juniper and lavender fight through on the finish; the juniper is strong and medicinal, while the lavender brings a floral-herbal hybrid taste.

Cotswold’s Dry Gin has a genuinely tasty and intriguing flavor journey. The black pepper and lavender bring a really unique element but it never strays away from being a classic, juniper-heavy gin with a refreshing kick and a characterful and endlessly oscillating sweet-spice duality. That high oil content comes into play on the mouthfeel too and at 46%, it’s smooth enough to sip neat. 

“What a gin! It stands out from the crowd with its slight opalescence and hints of fennel and aniseed, and has been a big hit since its launch” (Suzy Atkins, The Telegraph). Cotswolds Gin is crafted using a tailor-made hybrid Holstein still (above)

DOLIN VERMOUTH DE CHAMBERY, BLANC AND DRY

Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Blanc

Served on the rocks with a twist of lemon, it has a wonderfully complex taste, herbal but more sweet than medicinal. It tastes like a meadow full of wildflowers, refreshing and pure. And each small sip carries so much interest you tend to drink it more slowly than a glass of wine to make it last. The recipe (and the firm) dates from the 19th century. Basically, Dolin vermouth is white wine steeped in as many as 54 plants and herbs (including wormwood, hyssop, quinine bark and rose petals) for some months. The difference between more commercial vermouths and this one is quite dramatic. Try it in a martini with a twist of lime to enhance the herbal character of the gin and to tone down the pepperiness - a nice surprise for any martini drinker.

Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Dry

Unlike Martini’s dry vermouth, Dolin’s is almost colorless. Why does color matter? Well, you can make a crystal clear martini and still get a hint of vermouth. Despite the subtle color, there is nothing subtle about the aroma. There is a strong blend of pear, oak, herb, citrus and spice notes. The taste is seemingly light at first, but once the vermouth coats the tongue, the herbs and spices blossom and cover the entire mouth. Towards the finish you get a hint of citrus and pear with a long lasting oak aftertaste along with some warmth. Unlike Martini’s dry vermouth, this one is very dry, so don’t go looking for a hint of sweetness. Hence perfect with an olive to make the classic martini.

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Le Marche: The Best Kept Secret in Italian Wine?

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Le Marche: The Best Kept Secret in Italian Wine?

Often described as “unspoiled,” Le Marche, one of Italy’s twenty distinct wine regions, sits on the Adriatic Sea on the north-central east coast. The rolling hills descending to the sea become increasingly menacing and dramatic as one heads west and south, where the landscape is dominated by the often snow-capped Apennine mountains. Besides it’s wines - which are, in my opinion, unfairly overlooked in deference to the wines of its neighbors in Tuscany and Umbria - Marche is well known for its shoemaking tradition, with the finest and most luxurious Italian footwear being manufactured in this region. Culturally, it’s most famous progeny was the great renaissance painter Raphael, who was born in the city of Urbino - which, like many villages in the region, retains much of its medieval hillside character.

The wines of Le Marche have been so overshadowed by the princely and pricey wines of its neighbors that a popular tourist site doesn’t even mention that wine is made there! However, as I have learned over the past two years or so, not just any wine but very, very good wine is made throughout the region. 

At Palate Wines & Spirits, we have just brought four wonderful wines from Le Marche into the store.

The DeAngelis Marche Rosata ($14.95) comes from the Ascoli Piceno region, in southernmost Marche, with vineyard holdings straddling the Abruzzo line. It makes sense then that their rose is made with the most renown grape variety in the Abruzzo region - Montepulciano. It is a lightly savory and refreshing food-friendly delight of a wine, perfect for summer’s light fare.

Andrea Felici’s Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi ($16.95) comes from what is considered the world’s best region for the Verdicchio grape, in the central west portion of the region. The wine, made of 100 percent Verdicchio, is a good example of the tension between fruit and minerality found in many of the world’s great white wines. A perfect accompaniment for hard cheeses, shrimp, scallops, whitefish or egg dishes.  

Turning everything up a notch (or two or three), Sartarelli, considered by many to be one of the world’s best producers of Verdicchio wines, bottles the Tralivio Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore ($19.95) for those who appreciate the balance of fruit and minerality in a richer, broader, more sophisticated expression. This is a wondrous white and a perfect match for the best bloom and washed rind soft cheeses, roasted vegetables and just about anything this side of tomato sauce and grilled meats. 

Finally, we have brought in Lucchetti’s Guardengo Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore ($19.95), perhaps the best expression of the Lacrima varietal I and my friends have ever tasted. A single vineyard selection, this deep red wine stands above and beyond in my experience due to it’s sumptuous balance of ripe fruitiness, fine tannins, earthyness and a fine, dry acidity - all of this coming through in aromas and flavors unique to this grape. Wonderful all by itself or with hearty meals of grilled beef, lamb, pork, stinky blue cheeses and rustic breads. 

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COME IN AND TASTE THE ROSÉS

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COME IN AND TASTE THE ROSÉS

The race is on, once again, for rosés: the quintessential summer wine to please the palate either as an aperitif or as a companion to salmon, salads or light cheeses.  Don't get me wrong, summer can still be the time for your hearty, robust reds - Cabernets, Petite Syrahs or Malbecs, just as long as you've got juicy steaks, ribs or burgers sizzling on the grill.

But for something lighter or easier a really good rosé is the way to go.  One can find a lot of mediocre roses out there but that is not the case with our Domiane Houchart Cote de Provence 2016 ($16.95).  This superior rosé is produced by the same family since the 1850s with the founder's grandaughter, Genevieve Quinot, now running the domaine which is located about 25 km from Aix-En-Provence.

A beautiful salmon color, this rosé is a masterful blend of grapes common to this region of France: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre. Domaine Houchart is characterized by delicate citrus and strawberry aromas that carry onto your palate, evolving into hints of wild berries, melon and mineral notes with a finish that is clean and refreshing.

So jump into this summer with a glass of chilled Domaine Houchart Rosé 2016.  Sit back take a sip as you languidly lift your fork from a plate of cold salmon garnished with fresh dill and a dollop of crime frail he. Nothing could be better.

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Women Winemakers

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Women Winemakers

We are marking our 1.5 year anniversary by expanding our selection to focus on women winemakers from around the world. While we will continue to offer favorites such as the Crémant de Loire, the Huertos de los Palacios, and the Barrique Pinot Noir, we will be introducing new bottling and vineyards that share a unique quality: they are either produced or owned by women.

For the past 40 years, women have been making their mark on the wine world - a place traditionally dominated by men. Proven in studies to have more subtle and nuanced palates than their men, women continue to break the mould of tradition to create notes, flavors, and palates with success and critical acclaim. We look forward to sharing our favorites with you. 

With so many women produced wines hitting the market, we will be rotating and updating our inventory as we discover them together. As your local wine shop, we're constantly seeking and discovering our sense of purpose and place. To that end, we’re proud to share our first curated selection of 10 women-made red, white and sparkling wines. We hope you find this is in keeping with our promise to you: Fine libation at fair prices with a friendly staff. 

Be on the look-out for these new wines as they arrive in the coming weeks: they are marked with a gold dot on the bottleneck. 

See you soon!

The folks at Palate Wines

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The Reigning Wine of the Veneto

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The Reigning Wine of the Veneto

During the Renaissance, Venice produced four female artists of note. Today, it is producing some remarkable female wine producers. As part of Palate's focus on Women in Wine, we would like to introduce our customers to a spellbinding wine with a knowledgable, hardworking woman behind it. But first, the wine and its Italian soul. Let's go!

Venice, the beloved city of the Veneto, the leading wine region of northern Italy.  Most people associated this region with Prosecco,or Soave and of course for the reds, Valpolicella. But the Doge  of Veneto wines, the wine considered by wine experts as the finest wine of the region is AMORONE. 

Think of a dense, inky red wine produced from the corvina and rondinella grapes. How is it that this relatively cool region is able to produce such a remarkable, rich red?  It has to do with a style of wine making called appassimento. The best grapes from the harvest are let hang on the vine a little longer, then are taken in clusters and laid out on bamboo shelves to dry out in the sun for a few months. This allows water to evaporate and the sugars and flavor to intensify. The resulting wine is opulent, full bodied with an alcohol content of 15-16 percent.

This labor  intensive method, along with the risks of weather, affect the cost of the wine. Amarone is not a bargain table wine,  but your palate will seldom be treated to such a 5 star sip.

Palate is proud to introduce our wine lovers to our Alpha Zeta Amarone Val Policella 2013, an unforgettable selection.  Though the woman behind the wine is a native of New Zealand, she has lived for years in Italy and is passionate about all of her wines. The results have helped her develop a reputation throughout the Veneto. So, for that special occasion, for Valentine's Day, open a bottle of our Amarone with the one you love. It's really worth it.

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Palate's Holiday Gift Boxes

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Palate's Holiday Gift Boxes

Give the gift of wine and fine spirits!

Yaakov, our spirited sommelier, has put together a lovely arrangement of different grab bags fit for every occasion. Whether you need a last minute gift or a curated selection for your festive feast, we have a selection that will suite you and your guests' palate. 

The Grab Bag - $38

Kaleu Ugni Blanc, Argentina
Huetos de los Palacios, Spain
Rode Cellars Pinot Noir, California
Casa Julia Sauvignon Blanc, Chile
 

For Hearty Fare - $60

Lot 96 Petite Syrah, California
San Enrico Chianti, Italy
Chateau de Braque Bordeaux Superieur, France
Echeverria Carmenere, Chile
 

For Fish, Seafo0d, Light Pasta - $54

Premionte Cortese, Italy
Muscadet Jeremie Huchet, France
Intuition Cote du Rhone, France
Minarellas Albarino, Spain

Before & After Dinner - $74

Dona Antonia Reserve Tawny Port, Portugal
Byrrh Quinquina Apéritif, France
Monopolowa Gin 1L, Austria
Pamplune Grapefruit Rosé, France
* Mix two parts Gin and one part Grapefruit Rosé with a lemon twist for a fun cocktail.

The Local Option - $89

Salmon Run Mertitage, Finger Lakes, NY
Dr. Konstantine Frank Dry Reisling, Finger Lakes, NY
Ma Maison Champagne, NY
Black Dirt Bourbon, Warwick, NY

Holiday Spirits - $141

Tariquet Armagnac, France
Osocalos Rare Alambic Brandy, California
Black Dirt Apple Jack Brandy, Warwick, NY
Tito's Vodka 1L, Texas

The Kosher - $75

Taanug Merlot Cabernet (2 Bottles), Spain
Taanug Cava Sparkling, Spain
Dunsmore Irish Whiskey , Ireland

On the Rocks - $103

Studebaker Manahattan, Canada
Studebaker Old Fashioned, Canada
Campari Negroni, Italy
Evan Williams, Tennessee

The Finest of the Fine - $154

St. Innocent Pinot Noir, Oregon
Brunnello Di Montacino, Italy
Ladoucette Pouilly Fumé, France
Francois Millet Sancerre, France

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What makes wine Kosher?

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What makes wine Kosher?

This year the first night of Hannukah falls on the same date as Christmas Eve, so there will be festivities all around and in many homes wines will be enjoyed. Wine is an essential part of any Jewish holiday or celebration since wine is associated with joy. Observant Jews will drink only kosher wine, some for ritual use only and others at any time. So, what exactly is kosher wine?

Many people think of overly sweet concord wines like Manishewitz or Kedem and for many Othodox Jews who are not year round wine drinkers, this is true, but the term really has nothing to do with these wines. Nor does it have anything to do with a rabbi blessing the wine. The meaning of kosher wine goes back millennia.

In Biblical times, those who worshipped idols would pour out wine as a libation to their gods. Thus, Jewish law forbade the drinking of those wines. Wine, therefore, had to be a product that was produced only by Sabbath observing Jews from the time the grapes were pressed until it was bottled. All other wines were suspect as being wines used for pagan ritual use and thus forbidden.

It is even more complicated when a kosher wine is poured by a non Jew. Even though there aren't many pagan libations being poured these days, the age old custom still holds for observant Jews. So, in this case, the wine is flash pasteurized at a high temperature for a few seconds. The wine is then referred to as "mevushal", or "cooked" and can be poured by anyone. So there you have it. 

Palate Wines & Spirits is happy to announce that we are now carrying 2 kosher wines from Spain. Ta'anug (pleasure in Hebrew) ($16) is a full bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, ideal for brisket, lamb, or turkey dark meat. We also have a bubbly kosher Spanish Cava ($18) that is exceptional and would go well with latkes, either potato or the Sephardic version made from leaf greens (spinach, kale, chard) and leek. So, come in and see us as you light your candles and enjoy good food amid the warmth of family and friends. Merry Christmas and Hannukah Sameach to all our supporters. 

Yaakov Sullivan

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Jingle your bells and pop your corks!

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Jingle your bells and pop your corks!

First, thank you to all those Palate customers who supported us by selecting our wines for your Thanksgiving tables. We appreciate your business.

We've entered December, time to gear up for this month's holidays. As we all prepare we would like to suggest two great white wines to help you celebrate. New to our shelves are a New Zealand Glazebrook 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($16) and a South African Simonsig 2015 Chenin Blanc ($16). 

The Glazebrook Sauvignon Blanc is from Marlborough on the northern tip of the South Island where the cool climate and ocean breezes help the grapes produce a wine that is extremely refreshing, perfect to drink young. Glazebrook offers the palate a stunning crisp, dry wine with high acidity combined with complex layers of tropical fruit and a limey edge with a lingering finish. 

From the other side of the globe, South Africa also offers the wine enthusiast some remarkably good red and white wines. This new arrival, the Simonsig Chenin Blanc comes from the hillsides outside Stellenbosch. The Chenin Blanc grape originated in France's Loire Valley but South Africa has also had great success in cultivating its vines in the Cape area. This Chenin Blanc has striking floral notes with ripe pear and just a hint of honey. Ideal with light fare- a turkey sandwich, shrimp, glazed chicken or seared tuna.

And what festive occasion would be complete without raising a glass of chilled bubbly, namely our Gabriel Cremant de Loire ($20) that many of you already know well. Buy a case for New Year's Eve and get 10 percent off the case. What may be left can be consumed on Valentine's Day. So jingle your bells and pop those corks. Come in and share a sip with us and find out about the surprise in the bag.......and remember to share your food and drink in a spirit of good cheer!

Cheers,

Yaakov

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What's in a grape?

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What's in a grape?

What's in a grape? Everything, of course, when it comes to wine. What's to distinguish a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Merlot, or Malbec, or a Carmenere? No doubt the "terroir" (the interplay between soil composition, sunlight, temperature, position of vines) is critical to the quality of the wine but the variety of the particular grape should guide a buyer in making their selection. What to expect from a wine and how can a certain grape in that wine meet those expectations.

Let's select one grape, one that is cultivated extensively in the southwest of France and in the Rhone Valley a bit to the east of Langduedoc Roussillon- the grand Grenache noir. Grenache is often part of a trinity of grapes that are blended, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre . As a stand alone, this venerable grape is especially valued and makes for a range of stunning wines.

Grenache (known as garanacha in northern Spain) is the sole grape in making the wine of kings, popes and princes, Chateauneuf du Pape. It is also used in Cote du Rhone Village. Grenache is difficult to grow and challenging to make into wine, but when produced in a quality vineyard,Oo la la! Quel vin! Fine Grenache wines have an unmistakable purity and richness, with an aroma of cherry preserves. Not particularly high in tannins, it offers the drinker a sappy, luxurious texture.

So let Palate introduce you to some of our exciting Grenache wines. Enjoy a glass of Hecht & Bannier 2013 Minervois ($21), a delicious Grenache blend which has beautiful ripe, black fruit aromas followed by a hint of a smokey expression. 

Or select a bottle of our Plan de Dieu Cote du Rhone Villages 2012 ($15), an expressive Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend with a concentrated bouquet rich in cherry fruit and notes of spice, liquorice.

A new wine to Palate is our Domaine de Varquiere Rasteau ($20) from the village of Rasteau where the Chamfort family has been producing these wines for three generations. 70 percent Grenache this wine offers a deep ruby color oth a nose disclosing truffles and quince. Powerful on the palate, with a lingering finish this is a wine not to miss.

So come in and get aquatinted with Grenache and you will leave a happier dabbler in wine.

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The Riches of Bordeaux

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The Riches of Bordeaux

When one thinks of French wines, Bordeaux comes to mind. A strip of land extending down from the city of Bordeaux, it is an extensive area nestled along the banks of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Bordeaux produces some of the world's finest wines. The ruling red grapes here are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bordeaux is the largest fine wine district on earth. Nowhere else in the wine world is the link between geography and finance so evident, with some bottles of St. Julien or St. Estephe selling for over $1,000 a bottle. Palate pleases its customers with some fine Bordeauxs but within a price range that can be enjoyed by imbibers other than hedge fund manipulators.

We would like to introduce you to two very fine Bordeauxs that will make you think you are right there at the chateau. Our Chateau de Brague 2012 ($16) is a fantastic value. This wine is 80 percent Merlot, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon making up the difference. The vineyards are located on the right bank of the Dordogne in the vicinity of Fronsec, which produces some of Bordeaux's best value wines. As you sip Chateau de Brague you will pick up red ripe fruit on the nose with a beautiful minerality; dense on the palate with round tannins that make for a fresh fruity finish. Pair it with braised lamb, beef stew or duck.

Our second featured Bordeaux is in a category of its own. Chateau Mangot Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2010 ( $32) is a superb wine consisting of 85 percent Merlot, 9 percent Cabernet Franc, 6 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. Chateaut Mangot's grand cru hillside vines are grown in a clay and limestone soil with the grapes matured for 14 months in oak barrels. With notes of warm plums, stewed fruits, spices, this superb wine is fresh on the palate with fine tannins. A quality wine that ages well, for this price it is wise to buy a case. It would pair well with veal, a beef roast or pork loin.

We look forward to seeing you and giving you a tour of Bordeaux's wealth of wine regions as you leave Palate with one (or perhaps more) of these two fantastic wines that will ease your entry into winter.

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Sancerre - The Loire's Essense

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Sancerre - The Loire's Essense

The Loire is the longest river in France, meandering for 629 miles, starting in the Central Massif, in the south and emptying out into the Atlantic at Nantes, in the north. Along its banks are some of France's finest vineyards and over 1000 chateaux. The Loire Valley is referred to as the "Garden of France."

One of France's most distinguished white wines is produced in Sancerre, hence the name of the wine. 100 percent Sauvignon blanc, this is an aristocrat of wines, yet social enough to be found in almost every bistro and cafe in Paris due to its reputation for being a very food friendly wine.

Sancerre is bone dry with intense fruity aromas and pronounced mineral finish. Palate carries an excellent, highly rated Sancerre, our Francois Millet ($22), which is cultivated in the village of Bue whose clay and gravel soil render a full bodied, rounded wine of high quality. Excellent with grilled salmon ( squeeze some lime juice on the fillet, then smear on some Dijon mustard and drizzle with a bit of pure maple syrup) shellfish, or creamy pasta sauces. Just feel how this superb, aromatic wine stimulates the palate and lightens the richness of your entree. So come in and pick up a bottle and savor one of France's loveliest wines.

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The Third Pillar of Good Wine

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The Third Pillar of Good Wine

“In Spain, no matter if you make screwdrivers, at some point after you have saved a little money, the first thing you want to do is own a winery.  It is very important to the Spanish soul.”
        Yolanda Garcia Viadero, winemaker, Bodegas Valduero
 

Karen MacNeil in her tome, The Wine Bible, says that the Spanish use the verb elaborar instead of fabricar when talking about making wine.  This implies consciousness, time and the labor of creation rather than mere production. And as a result, Spain has recently catapulted its wines to a far higher level of quality. 

Palate is proud to carry a great selection of Spanish wines and we would like to feature three of them, nice summer whites, for this week’s news. Spain is a huge land mass of coastlines, mountains and high, hot, and dry plains. 

Our first featured white is Casamaro 2014 Verdejo ($14). This wine comes from Rueda, one of the most important white wine regions in Spain. The Rueda region  has extremely cold winters and fiercely hot summers, an ideal environment for growing the Verdejo grape. Palate’s Casamaro is all Verdejo making for a wine that has lots of bright lemon peel and blossom on the nose with stone fruit notes. It gives off a nice minerality that makes you want more. Many wine authorities consider Verdejo whites to be Spain’s best white wine.  Its clean, sharp acidity makes an excellent match with tapas, as well as tacos and like most Spanish whites, with seafood. 

Moving to the far northwest corner of Spain, to the Rias Baixas region in Galicia, you might think you were in Ireland.  Mountainous, green with lots of rain, this region is famous for its local grape, Albarino, known in Spain as the “aristocratic” grape.  We carry the Minarellos Albarino 2014 ($13),  a wine that enlivens the palate with a harmonious blend of fresh fruit and wild herbs.  Fresh, light with a burst of acidity, this wine is fermented in small stainless steel tanks after a careful maceration.  This wine places itself somewhere between a light creaminess and a crisp zestiness. Since most of Galicia has a coastline, this wines is excellent paired with crab cakes, prawns, salmon, fresh sardines. Think briny and you can’t go wrong.

Our third pillar of Spanish wines is different.  It comes from the Penedes region of  Catalonia.  Our Avinyo Petillant 2015 ($16) is a young, refreshing, vibrant wine with a tingling effervescence which makes it the region’s traditional summer quaffer. It is 60% Macabeu and 40% Petit Grain Muscat. The name means prickly but that quality is softened by notes of honeysuckle and almond with a bracingly dry, mineral finish.  This is a wine seen often in Barcelona where it graces the tables topped by grilled fish, squid, garlic, and tomatoes drizzled in heavy Spanish olive oil. 

Along with these white, Palate also carries a number of  excellent Spanish reds, so whether white for the summer or red for the coming chill of autumn, come in, learn of few words of Spanish and let us give you the tour of Spain, Europe’s third pillar of good wine.

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