Happy Birthday America!

To all Americans today is be THE day – Independence Day. 235 years ago the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.

And America seems to get inspired by this day:

The most surprising fact is that you can find even 5 places nationwide called “America.” The biggest one in American Fork, Utah has 21,941 residents.

Eleven places adopted “independence” and made it part of their name. In Independence – again Missouri – the most populous one has 113,288 habitants.

You can find 30 places in the entire nation that have “liberty” in their name. Iowa consists of the most places with this name than any other states. The four ones are Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty. Liberty, Missouri is the place with the largest population, it counts 26,232 citizens.

There are 5 places that contain the name “freedom.” The largest population has Freedom, California with 6,000 residents.

Since 1776 freedom and independence is celebrated every year by families together with friends and barbeques, picnics and a night of parades and fireworks.

The typical picnic or barbeque includes steaks, grilled chicken, potato salad, baked beans and of course apple pie. No matter if fried chicken, turkey or a big cake with the colours and shapes of the American flag the food is plenty and picnic ideas are fun for everybody.

Any recommendation for drinks needed? On this special day, wine or sparkling off course! And which wine would fit better than a domestic one?

California offers amazing wine regions such as the popular Napa Valley, located not even an hour drive east from San Francisco or Sonoma County that produces excellent chardonnays and pinot noirs. Santa Barbara County produces some of California’s finest wines, especially chardonnay, pinot noir, and syrah. It is also one of the state’s most beautiful wine regions, with vineyards surrounded by sloping coastal hills and untouched valleys, only dotted with small family wineries.

Leave California and you can get great wines from Washington a young wine region (emerged in the mid-1970) but the second largest wine-producing region in the US. It is celebrated for its red wines syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

Have a look at wineries in the east of the country, for example in New York where wine lovers will find two of the finest winegrowing regions: the Finger Lakes with a range of different wineries and Long Island where the state’s best wines are produced. Especially merlot is features by most local wineries as their signature variety – a grape that is widely panned on the island.

Virginia wines has become more and more popular during the past decade and won numerous awards at national and international wine competitions. The 6th largest wine producing state in the US offers a wide range of quality grape varieties.

In the country’ south in Texas, especially from the area around Dallas in the northeast to the western plains and the Hill Country of the south, growers and vintners are dedicated to the cultivation and production of high-quality grapes and wines.

So it shouldn’t be a problem to find the one that fits best. Having this said: Happy Independence Day ! And don’t forget to browse our WinesMadeEasy.ie for great US wines! Cheers!

5 for Friday – 27/08

5_for_5

It’s Friday, the weekend so close! Every Friday I’m going to introduce five great award-winning wines that you shouldn’t miss to enjoy!

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App in One Hand, Wine Glass in the Other – http://ow.ly/674sv @nytimes #app #wine

@TFMcGrath Tom McGrath

New wine created by Norwich-based firm through internet votes http://bit.ly/q7Te63 #wine #news

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Wine aged under the sea? Check out this @nytimes article: http://cot.ag/pWuzeN ^NM

@WineLibrary Wine Library

Absolut trials new vodka and white wine product Absolut Tune through publicity …: Absolut Vodka is conducting … http://bit.ly/oQ93R0

@wineparadise Ian Blackford

Really bright, fresh, the 2009’s are shown power and finesse, reminds me of Mary Lou Retton – score it 90 #wine http://yfrog.com/h2vd5ymj

@garyvee Gary Vaynerchuk

Drinking moderate amounts of wine will help you lose weight http://at.wineindia.in/nZZ49o

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~ Age is just a number. It is totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine. ~ Joan Collins

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Pizza pleasures in the park with rose or bubbly http://bit.ly/qUCRTA

@NatalieMacLean Natalie MacLean

EarlyBirdWine: CHAMPAGNE FASHIONS.. http://bit.ly/nsj5eC Full http://bit.ly/g12jIm

@GetYourWineNews Wine Lovernews

RT @rickbakas: Mobile Strategy Ideas for #CabernetDayhttp://bit.ly/r9nulD [love the PressPay feature!]

@luxeagent Monica Monson

Bubbles All Over The World

Sparkling wine, Prosecco, Cava, Champagne and now the English come and invent their „Britagne“ (pronounced “Brit-an-ye“ off course and not like the ending in Champagne). It makes it all even more confusing. So let’s see what actually the difference is between all these sparkling wines and why is Champagne more expensive than the rest.

As a sparkling lover I’m going to explain all differences between the various bubblies. All Champagnes and Sparkling wines come as Extra Brut, Brut (most popular style) Extra Dry, Sec and Demi-Sec depending on their sugar levels. Brut describes a dry natural wine that no sweetness was added to.

Most importantly: anything that is not produced within the French region of Champagne needs to be given another name. In the European Union it is even illegal to call any sparkling “Champagne” when it is not made in this particular region.

But why is Champagne more expensive than other bubblies? The territory of making the wine and the circumstances around the wine making, such as production method or weather are factors that need to be considered.

The method used to produce Champagne is called “the methodé champenoise” and involves a lot of costs, time and labour. Regular wine is put into a bottle and fermented again which produces all these bubbles. After an aging process of at least 15 months the by-products of fermentation (dead yeast cells) must be carefully extracted from the bottle. The pressure inside this bottle is equivalent to that in a car tire. The long storage period and the compound of blends from different years (some may be 8-10 years) also cause additional costs.

The second point is that the Champagne region has relatively cool temperatures that make growing and ripening of wine grapes more difficult. Spring frosts and lack of sunshine mean that some grapes never ripen. So you do not only pay for the grapes that made it into the bottle but also for the ones that didn’t. The process of winemaking itself is expensive and you pay the price. Another problem with this area is it needs to provide countries around the world with its Champagne and although every acre is planted with vines the rarity raises the price.

Italy’s flagship in regards to bubbly is Prosecco made of Italian’s grapes (the Italian wine, region and grape is called Prosecco). It is a fun fruity bubbly, lighter and slightly sweeter than Champagne and the procedure of producing Prosecco differs from the “the methodé champenoise.” Instead the “Charmat” method is used. The wine goes through the second fermentation in pressurised tanks and not in individualised bottles. This tank fermentation preserves the freshness of Prosecco and flavour of the grapes. This procedure is not as complex as for Champagne which allows the lower price.

Since it is a light-bodied, off-dry fizz with slight aromas of peach it is great for making cocktails. Mixed with peach juice Prosecco becomes a Bellini or combined with Aperol and a splash of seltzer it makes a great Aperol Spritz both very popular refreshing drinks in Italy. Two Italian terms describe the type of Prosecco; Spumante is used for fully sparkling wines and Frizzante for lightly sparkling.The name Prosecco can only be applied to sparkling wines that are made of grapes grown in the north-east of Italy. All Prosecco-producing regions are awarded the DOC designation – “Denominazione di origine controllata”, the Italian equivalent of France’s “Appellation d’origine contrôlée” and the first 15 designated regions were elevated to the highest status DOCG.

Winemakers in countries like Austria, Germany, Australia and Brazil that grow Prosecco grape are no longer allowed to call their sparkling wines Prosecco. Instead they will have to use the word “glera” – an alternative name for this grape. Other Italian sparklers are Franciacorta from Lombardy, Asti from Piedmont and Lambrusco from Emilia.

The Spanish Cava resembles Champagne more than the Italian Prosecco. Cava is Spain’s signature sparkling wine mostly made of grapes from the Catalonia hills. Cava is exclusively made of Spanish grapes while the production method used is the same as for Champagne. Cava is softer than Champagne and has aromas of honey, green apple and dried herbs. A good quality Cava will start at a price of €11 which seems a very interesting budget option.

New world countries will surprise you with good sparkling wines as well. Try Australia’s Jacob’s Creek or Wolf Blass which are the ones that rival Champagne the most or go with Cloudy Bay from New Zealand.

Argentina and Chile offer very drinkable sparkling wines for an affordable price. Still relatively new on the world wine market Brazil seems to be on a catch up race and surprises with refreshing and very tasty sparklings such as Aurora Sparkling or Miolo’s Millesime Brut.

Have a look at our range of Champagnes, Proseccos, Cavas and other sparkling wines at www.WinesMadeEasy.ie

Brazil on a catch-up race

We are very proud to say that we just added a variety of high quality and tasty Brazilian wines to our product range. I got really excited when we took in red, white and sparkling wines from Brazil after concentrating on the more “typical” wine countries first.

I’ve never tasted any wines from this country before. What will they taste like? Are they of good quality? Some people might think: Don’t they just drink Caipirinha in Brazil? And how can they produce wine over there when the country is covered with rain forests?

Brazil is, indeed a comparatively young wine producer on the world market with just 4 years of international wine recognition and in an early stage of development when it comes to promoting the wine abroad or supporting the export. Actually the country has a relatively long history of wine making since Italian immigrants settled in South Brazil in the 19th century which brought grapevines and the tradition of wine. Most of their wines are hardly known outside of Brazil. That is a shame since it is wine of high quality and fantastic flavour.

The country currently exports 20% of its wine production and is becoming more and more famous for its sparkling wines. Opinions I received on wines from Brazil just back it up: surprisingly good sparkling wines, excellent red wines, fresh and juicy with moderate alcohol level.

According to a survey by the Brazilian Wine Institute Ibravin (Instituto Brasileiro do Vinho), in 2010 12.5 million litres of sparkling wine were sold, compared to 11.1 million gallons placed in 2009. And now for 2011 exports are expected to rise by a third in value again. The UK is the strongest import market for Brazilian wines and just topped the US.

90% of production is concentrated in the south of the country, an area called Serra Gaúcha located between Uruguay and the Atlantic Ocean. Also the São Francisco Valley, a hot desert area only nine degrees south of the equator is famous for growing wine and allows two productions of crops per year.

So what to expect from these wines? Often mentioned and dominant wine brands are Miolo, Lidio Carraro and Pizzato. The Miolo Group of wineries remains to be one of Brazil’s high quality producers with wines in many quality ranges from basic-popular to Icon ranges all consisting of award winning wines.

One of the Super Premium Range wines is Miolo Brut Millésime. Made of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes it creates a refreshing and fruity sparkling with 12% volume in alcohol.

Miolo Lote 43, an Icon wine with Caberent Sauvignon and Merlot grapes is an easy to enjoy and full flavoured red wine with aromas of dried plums, currants and mints.

Another excellent wine producer Lidio Carraro holds vineyards in the Vale dos Vinhedos appellation which has become known as the origin of Brazil’s finest wines. One speciality Carraro’s wine have is that no oak is used for wine production. Its Dadivas Chardonnay comes with vanilla aromas and natural freshness.

Wines from Brazil are never too heavy and their ordinary alcohol volume of 13% makes the wines easy to enjoy for every occasion.

Brazilian wines are definitely here to stay. A look at the brilliant prospects for the wine industry in Brazil shows that there is big potential for these wines. Although still the “traditional” old world and new world wine countries are in people’s mind due to the growing wine consumption Brazil will get its chance and hopefully become a more prominent player in the world of wine.

Curious now? Go to WinesMadeEasy.ie and check out our Brazilian wines.

Wine Auction follows Investor Fraud

It’s almost two years ago that the American former stock broker Bernard Madoff has been jailed for 150 years after pleading guilty with restitution of $170 billion to masterminding the biggest fraud ever seen in America. The founder of Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities was arrested in June 2009 after he ran a hedge fund which allegedly racked up $50bn of fraudulent losses – the largest investor fraud ever committed by an individual.

Instead of paying early investor’s high return with profits made from his investments he used money given to him by later investors. But the Ponzi scheme, like Madoff’s cannot go on forever. The number of new investors that must be found to keep the earlier investors paid off increased exponentially.

The Ponzi scheme defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. His estimated 20,000 victims included hedge funds, executives, banks (HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland), foundations (Steven Spielberg’s charity the Wunderkinder Foundation, university endowments, famous (Elie Wiesel), and thousands of ordinary people whose lives were devastated.


Now Bernard Madoff’s wine collection will be auctioned. On 18 May at its Fine Wine Auctions the wine shop Morell & Co will auction up to 58 of Madoff’s wines and spirits. The value of the wines is estimated $15,000 and contains a range of Bordeaux which show his mogul life style. The proceeds from the auction will be deposited in the United States Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Fund to compensate the victims’ of Madoff’s ‘multi-billion dollar fraud’ Morrells catalogue says.

The catalogue includes a case of 1996 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild ($3,200-3,800), six bottle of 1990 Chateau Beychevelle ($350-480), one bottle of 1964 Chateau Cheval Blanc ($500-750) and six bottles of 1997 Antinori Tignanello ($850-1,200).

Even bottles which normally wouldn’t make it into the auction and are more called “conversation pieces” will be sold at the auction due to “the unique artefacts of history”.

Royal Family Despises Best of English Sparklings

Long speculations and rumours went around the world about which good drop the royal family might pick for the big upcoming event; the marriage of Kate and William.

Some said no English wine will be served; instead a French one will make the race.

But of course at a real British royal wedding the national pride requires an original English sparkling to toast the happy couple.

Last year Nyetimber’s classic cuvee 2003 from a UK manufacturer won the best sparkling wine on the planet award. The Decanter award was given to Ridgeview for its best sparkling wine; also an English example. During the Bolcini Del Monto international Wine Awards in Verona the Camel Valley won best Rosé Sparkling wine in the world (including Champagne) which has its vineyard in Cornwall, England.

And now guess which sparkling will be on the well laid tables? The surprising fact that England is producing the best sparkling wine in the world would make us assume the royal family will definitely pick one of those. But none of the announced made it on the wedding table. The royal couple have ditched the best in the world to be served with Pol Roger now. Pol Roger will be the official Champagne on next week’s royal wedding. The online wine magazine Decanter.com was told by a spokesman for Pol Roger a non-vintage has specifically been requested by the Palace. It will be sipped before the sit-down meal hosted by Prince Charles.

Although traditionally Pol Roger has never been drunk at royal weddings it was Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite Champagne and in 1984 Pol Roger created the Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill in his honour. Maybe because of its long and honourable association with the British aristocracy they decided in favour of Pol Roger.

For previous weddings Bollinger seemed to be popular. Queen Victoria as well as Prince Charles chose it for their marriages.

Although it’s not the best sparkling of England Pol Roger champaign must have something that impressed the couple. Having said this there is nothing left to say than Cheers!

Word is out: Best Bordeaux 2010

Recently the wine magazine Decanter published its wine ratings and tastings notes for the Bordeaux 2010 vintage. The Decanter team Steven Spurrier (Medoc and Graves), James Lawther (Right Bank) and Michael Bettane (Sauternes) assessed a huge range of samples of this much talked-about vintage.

Spurrier was pleased by what he saw, reserving special praise for Graves and Pessac-Leognan, the ‘standout success’ of the vintage, and also for the lesser Cotes de Bordeaux appellation. Michel Bettane says this is a ‘great vintage…a lucky continuation of a stunning succession, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009.

This year’s scores are very high with four “perfect wines” that got 20 pints. The ones that won the race were Chateau Margaux, Latour, Lafite and Cheval Blanc.

The Chateau Margaux was rated  by Spurrier having a superb colour, a lovely concentration of polished flavours that stay on the palate forever, unbelievable freshness and density,” a truly great wine” and got 20 points in the rating.

Chateau Latour was said to have a sensational depth of colour, incredible sweetness and ripeness of fruit, but very massive now, a monumental expression of the Latour vineyards.

With a fabulous nose of wild violets, wonderful lissom texture backed by aristocratic firmness and a totally captivating wine for the long term the Chateau Lafite Rothschild was rated one of the best four Bordeaux.

The fourth winner with 20 points is the Cheval Blanc that was praised by Lawther as a ‘seamless’ wine with ‘pure, sumptuous fruit’.

Five Bordeaux got the second rank with 19.5 scores. These are Ausone, Palmer, Mouton-Rothschild, Leoville-Las-Cases and Haut Brion, followed by Vieux Chateau Certan, Ducru Beaucaillou, Petrus, La Mission Haut Brion, Yquem, Cos d’Estournel and Calon Segur with 19 points.

All other ratings and tasting notes for every wine can be seen at www.decanter.com

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