Saturday, 25 January 2014

Unpretentious and true: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos du Calvaire #SukasaStyle Review

Old vines at Vignobles Mayard
The wines of the Southern Rhône are amongst the most loved on the planet, and of those the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are iconic. They are unarguably amongst the favourites of your humble SukasaStyle reviewer. Yes, you can buy less expensive wines from Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Côtes du Rhône Villages (Rasteau in particular) that are very good in quality and excellent in value but they simply aren’t Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 

Having said that, as any wine lover understands any Châteauneuf isn’t cheap but by that measure, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos du Calvaire is as unpretentious and as value laden as they come. 

Clos du Calvaire 
We heartily recommend it for purchasing and drinking now and for cellaring for the coming decade. Consider the 2010 vintage of Châteauneuf’s in general as the one that is suitable for aging. It is a better value that the blockbuster 2005 vintage.

Price $ 29.95 | Made in: Rhône, France By: Domaine Du Pere Pape Vignobles Mayard
15.5% Alcohol/Vol. 
Style: Full-bodied & Smooth 
Sugar Content: 5 g/L | Sweetness Descriptor: D – Dry

** It is aged in cement or stainless steel tanks for 12 months following vinification so ‘over-oaking’ is not an issue **

Tasting Notes
This is a generous wine that reminds you of a variety of berries, some liquorice and a touch of leather and cocoa on the nose. The structure with moderate tannins makes it a wine to savour slowly and the body is rich while the finish is velvety smooth. What may come as a surprise is the alcohol content, coming in at 15.5% which reminds one of Nappa Valley Cabernet or Barossa Valley Shiraz. 

For the 2010 vintage the Grenache/Syrah/Cinsault combination comes in at 70/20/10 ratio. The question remains, can that combination continue?

Some think that it cannot. As Master of Wine Jancis Robinson recently wrote, regarding Châteauneuf and alcohol citing Michel Chapoutier who:

was asked by the buyer for The Wine Society whether he really thought the future of Châteauneuf-du-Pape could lie with the Grenache grape when it makes such high-alcohol wines. Chapoutier impishly suggested the best course would be to allow producers to add water to their wines.Pausing briefly to consider the signature grape of the northern Rhône, he volunteered: “The southern Rhône is too warm for Syrah. Of course, we don’t want to reduce the alcohol by physical means. If you use reverse osmosis to reduce the alcohol, you sacrifice some of the aromas. When you physically concentrate the grape must, you concentrate everything – including less desirable aspects. So how about simply adding back the water lost by evaporation? If you harvest on the basis of the ripeness of tannins in Grenache, you risk having wines at 15.5 or 16 per cent alcohol at least. We experimented and found that adding water did actually result in better wines.” (bold emphasis added)

Sacrebleu! SukasaStyle hopes it does not come to Châteauneuf avec l'eau
Alternative label

In the meantime, enjoy this value Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos du Calvaire with beef carpaccio with parmigiano reggiano (as recommended by the winery) or our short list of hearty dish options: Stews and Casseroles, Bangers and Mash, Haggis (homage to Robbie Burn’s day), Chilli, Steak and Kidney Pie, or Roast Beef.

Decant before serving and serve at 17oC if possible. Cellar till 2023.

Sukasa Stars: 4.6 out of 5
Quality Price Ratio: Very Good 

Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle

Friday, 17 January 2014

Scotch Whisky Flavour Profiles

'Big data' came to the fore in 2013 with Edward Snowden and the allegations around NSA snooping. 
But big data is more than government over-reach and surveilance. 
When it is combined with data visualization and the wonderful world of culture the results can be not just appealing but indispensably useful.

Case in point: this graphic was created by Christopher Ingraham (Twitter @cingraham) with the original concept and code by Kevin Schaul (Twitter @kevinschaul)
Hat tip to data scientist George Piatetsky (Twitter @kdnuggets) for alerting us to it on his twitter timeline. 
It is basically a flavour profiling of 86 scotch whiskies based on 12 flavour categories: 
  • Sweetness
  • Fruity
  • Floral
  • Body
  • Smoky
  • Tobacco
  • Medicinal
  • Winey
  • Spicy
  • Malty
  • Nutty
  • Honey

Each scotch has a radar diagram that illustrates the characteristics of that whisky. 

You can download a full resolution png file at this infographics website

A SukasaStyle #ScotchSunday reminder: everyone's palate is different but some characteristics should stand out based on the region, distillery, and method. 
The next time you enjoy your dram remember how useful big data can be.

Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Water: why your single malt will only get more expensive

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
 ~ The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Taylor Coleridge's classic rhyme tells of the abundance of salt water surrounding the doomed mariner but in the world of single malt, thankfully it is pure fresh water that is the key ingredient to the production of an unforgettable scotch whisky. 

But pure water isn't in abundance, and the scalability of single malt production is limited by such factors. Diageo tried to circumvent this problem in 2003 by producing a so-called 'pure malt' Cardhu but the drinks giant was too clever by half. Rather than gaining appreciation in its Iberian target market, it courted controversy and had to back off by eventually dropping the 'pure malt' label and reintroducing Cardhu single malt to the United Stated market in 2010

Sukasa Style loves the Cardhu 12 year expression, as outlined in the recent #ScotchSunday post, our small segue into history today is there to remind us that global demand will outstrip supply. More distilleries are producing 40% alcohol by volume drinks so there fewer rabbits to pull out of the hat; there will be little choice but more expensive scotch even with bigger distilleries. 

As the excellent primer Eyewitness Companions - Whiskey states "It is fair to say that the most important single factor in distillery location has always been the availability of a reliable source of pure water. Everything else is secondary."

Eyewitness Companions - Whiskey (p. 21)

Eyewitness Companions - Whiskey (p. 22)
Source: Eyewitness Companions - Whiskey.
Editor-in-chief: Charles MacLean

Key takeaway: enjoy and savour your dram of single malt scotch because it will only get more expensive as the middle and upper classes in the world's most populated nations have more purchasing power and acquire a taste for it. Demand will outstrip supply and there simply is no substitute for single malt scotch.

Arijit Banik
 for SukasaStyle

Monday, 13 January 2014

Suntory of Japan is buying Jim Beam

What does this mean? More concentration in the spirits business and probably more pricing power for the acquiring company.
The motivation for the Japanese company in buying the US company for USD 16 billion is fourfold:
Suntory buying Jim Beam is a huge acquisition

1. Joining the big league 
The deal will make Suntory the world’s third-largest maker of distilled drinks with strength in Bourbon, Scotch, Canadian, Irish and Japanese whiskies with combined annual sales of spirits of more than $4.3bn to rival Diageo and Pernod Ricard.

2. Suntory less focused on Japan 
About two-thirds of Suntory’s sales are in Japan – and are growing at just 3 per cent a year. Buying Beam will help the Japanese group counter the decline in its domestic market, whose shrinking population has intensified competition.

3. Exposure to the US market 

The deal gives Suntory instant access to the US, the world’s largest spirits market, and could help it achieve its goal of annual sales of Y2tn ($19bn) by 2020.

4. Raises international profile 
Best-known outside Japan for its Orangina Schweppes business and its recent acquisition of Ribena and Lucozade, Suntory will now be able to boast some of the world’s most sought-after spirits’ brands, including Jim Beam, Teacher’s and Laphroaig Scotch whiskies as well as, Canadian Club whisky and Courvoisier cognac.

The corporations behind the world's great whiskies

Familiar brands that fall under the Suntory banner:

Canadian Club

Maker's Mark
Knob Creek
Pinnacle Vodka
Suntory Whisky Hibiki 

(Source: Financial Times

Arijit Banik for Sukasa Style

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Cardhu 12 year #ScotchSunday Review

SukasaStyle returns with its first #ScotchSunday entry of 2014 with a review of Cardhu 12 year single malt.

As one bottle empties another opens:

As we have stressed before, the wonderful world of single malt opens up a smorgasbord of flavours, but what is "better" or "worse" is a question of one's palette.
We are unapologetic fans of Dalwhinnie's 15 year expression and decided to replace it in our ready to drink whisky portfolio with Cardhu's 12 year old entry. We know that the late Michael Jackson wasn't a fan of either, giving Dalwhinnie a 76, and Cardhu a 72 on his 100 point scale. But to our palette, there is joy to be found in all flavour profiles, be they smoky peat monsters from Islay or delicate, light expressions from Speyside.

Cardhu on the flavour map:

We suggest a quick look at this 3 min 42 sec video featuring Andy Cant, senior site manager at Cardhu, giving a primer on tasting Cardhu in its preferred balloon glass.

SukasaStyle Tasting Notes and Suggestions:

Our first recommendation is take your time; this isn't a dram to shoot down. If you don't let Cardhu open up for at least 15-20 minutes after pouring then you will be disappointed and it will taste like a blended scotch -- which is perfectly fine but probably not your intention -- and your impression will suffer as a result.

Our second recommendation is try it with and without a splash of cold water, preferably filtered with the chlorine taken out, and assess what you prefer.

The nose is not strong -- more a hint of honey than a full throttle extraction.
If you are in a rush to taste then you will get a bit of heat and a lot of malt cereal.

If you let it open up then you will be rewarded with a rich palate that includes spice, wood, honey, a hint of nutmeg in addition to the malted cereal. It ends up being a memorable dram rather than a shot of blended whiskey that is waiting for a mix.

CARDHU SINGLE MALT SCOTCH |  LCBO 289496 | 750 mL bottle | Price $ 74.95
Made in: Speyside, Scotland By: Diageo Canada Inc 40.0% Alcohol/Vol.

Sukasa Stars: 4.5 / 5 (as recommended after opening up)
Quality Price Ratio: Excellent
Drink: Neat or with a splash of cold filtered water
Pair: with Jamón ibérico as part of a charcuterie plate.

Arijit Banik for Sukasa Style

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A is for Argentina

SukasaStyle returns for 2014's first #WineWednesday post with the focus again on value for money in the latest LCBO Vintages release. 

For the hard earned funds you put aside for a couple of bottles we are going back to the Southern hemisphere with two luscious reds from the land called Silver: Argentina. 

It is understandable if you feel tapped out after splurging over the Christmas holidays. Not to fear: the country that has produced peerless Maradonna, Messi and Malbec also has a varietal that shouldn't be overlooked: Bonarda

Bonarda, like Malbec, is a foreigner that has found the soil and climate of Mendoza to be more hospitable than that of its native Italy where it hailed from Piedmont. The lighter-bodied and fruity wine is a good alternative for fans of gamay who are looking for a change of pace with richer flavour.
Yauquen Bonarda 2012

The Yauquen Bonarda 2012 vintage from Bodega Ruca Malen should be served with red meats, pasta with meat sauce, and cheese but is also suitable for sipping. We suggest opening the bottle an hour before serving to let it open up or decant.

Serve at 18-20 o
Sukasa Stars:  4.3 out of 5
Quality Price Ratio: Very Good - Excellent

Killka Malbec 2012
The second pick is Killka Malbec 2012 produced by Bodegas Salentein from Valle de Uco in Mendoza. This is from the winery's young range portfolio and the classic blackberry, plum and vanilla nose is paired with the structure of a more expensive wine. It is a fruit forward entry but there are smooth tannins to show that it isn't a simple fruit bomb. Like many a malbec we sugest serving this with a roast or grilled red meat. Like the aforementioned bonarda, this would be another decent pairing with pasta with meat sauce and semi to hard cheese. We raise a glass to winemaker Gustave Bauzá for a wonderful entry. It is difficult for domestic producers to match at this price point.

Serve at 16 oC
Sukasa Stars: 4.45 out of 5
Quality Price Ratio: Excellent

Posted by Arijit Banik for SukasaStyle.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Foreign Players shake up Indian Cinema

The FT’s Nalini Sivathasan reports on how collaborations with foreign players are transforming Bollywood and regional cinema in India. While foreign studios are benefiting by their investment,  countries and foreign production companies also stand to gain.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions for all Wine Lovers

Don't give up!
From theinspiration (Twitter: @_theinspiration )
SukasStyle resolves to make resolutions doable. 
Here are 6 Vinous Resolutions from Gregory Dal Paz, contributor at Snooth, that we agree with:
Clean up your cellar: stop being a pack rat because the cellar won't clean and organize itself.
Dispose of your wine: it doesn't last forever, not even the bottle of Bordeaux collecting dust.
Take a different path: getting out of your comfort zone can be rewarding
Stop being a snob: as of today, there are 312 people who officially have the title Masters of Wine and chances are that the insufferable wine snob you know isn't one of them.
Share more wine: it is better to give than to receive so pay it forward.
Listen more: no one is as smart as some people claim to be; we can all learn from one another.

Read the full article (without our editorial embellishments) at the Snooth website.

An Introduction to Great Scotch Whisky

As we open 2014 with numbing cold weather we wish our SukasaStyle readers a Happy 2014. We always recommend a good dram of single malt whisky to keep you company on a cold winter's night but what of the people who have yet to venture into the world of great whisky? There is the plethora of good books and web resources (including our #ScotchSunday postings) but if you want a fast introduction that will take less than 90 minutes then watch the video above in the comfort of your home. You will be taken on a journey from Speyside to Skye to Islay and the narrative will include the historical significance of why there are many distilleries, the differences in the distilling process and also give a nod to the world of Irish Whiskey and Blended Scotch Whisky.

Sukasa Stars: 4 out of 5

Happy Viewing!