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Discovering Armagnac

  

Armagnac Delord

 

Delord "25 Ans" Bas-Armagnac

 

Armagnac is a county located within the southwestern region of France known as Gascony.

 

This overall region goes from just north of Bayonne in the south, up the Atlantic coast to the Médoc, follows the Gironde river inland nearly to Toulouse where the boundary heads due south to the foothills of the Pyrenées Mountains at the Spanish border.

 

Map of Armagnac


 

This enormous land mass contains some of the greatest wine growing areas in the world. Names like Margaux, Saint-Estéphe, Pauillac and Sauternes spring to mind.


Geography is very important here. In France, they have a different philosophy toward growing winegrapes than you will find in California.

 

Where our vineyards might grow many different varieties, the French tend to concentrate on whatever grapes grow best in the soils and other natural factors that exist in the region.

 

This is what differentiates "varietal wines" from "regional wines". A bottle of French wine rarely ever mentions the type of grape on the label, but always refers to where the wine was made.

 

It is up to the consumer to understand that a "White Bordeaux" will be predominantly Sauvignon Blanc, or a "Red Burgundy" is a Pinot Noir. And of course other grapes from that region are very often blended into the wine. This is what gives each its own identity.


So now we come to Armagnac.

 

We know it is the name of a county, but Armagnac also lends its name to a grape brandy from the region. Its closest relative is Cognac, another grape brandy made about 100 miles north near (surprise) the town of Cognac!


Even though it is related to and often confused with Cognac, Armagnac is very different with regards to its grapes, terroir, distillation, élevage, blending, aromas, tastes and textures. In truth, France's two finest brandies made from wine are not very much alike at all.


Located in the heart of Gascony among so many famous wine regions, Armagnac might feel as if it got shortchanged. The soils here are sandy and contain a high level of iron, making them far less suitable for growing Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot vines.

 

It is broken up in to 3 separate areas as seen in the map above. Bas-Armagnac, the lowest in elevation, has the sandier soils and is the chief production area for Armagnac brandies, while Haut-Armagnac, the highest, grows hardly any grapes at all!


The middle ground called Ténarèze is more limestone and clay with some sandy soils mixed in. They offer their production more to the Côtes de Gascogne and Floc de Gascogne wines than to the distillation of brandy.


Centuries of trial and error have shown that the grapes that do best in this region are some of the lesser known varietals of Baco Blanc (the principal grape of the region), Ugni Blanc (sometimes call Rolle), Folle Blanche and the somewhat better known Colombard.


While you may find wines on the market made from these varietals, the vines tend to produce high acid, neutral flavored grapes with a fairly low sugar content, usually resulting in low alcohol wines of around 10% ABV or so.

 

These attributes make them much less desirable for the table. But the French found the solution by making brandy!


Brandies are made from distilling wine - raising the temperature of the "mash" to the point where the alcohol vaporizes but the rest of the solution remains liquid. The vapors are then directed away from the main mixture and cooled, allowing it to condense back into a liquid!

 

This is the same basic process used for making all spirits, with the only difference being the ingredients used to make up the "mash". The hard part comes in having the right equipment and knowledge to bring it all together to make something truly special!


In the late 19th century, a man named Prosper Delord, who was one of the few with a great deal of knowledge of the process, recognized an opportunity and started a company as an "itinerant distiller".

 

He would travel the region with his old pot still towed behind his 2 cows, visiting the farms of friends and neighbors throughout the Bas-Armagnac region, and for a fee, he would distill their wine into what they called "Eaux-de-Vie" (waters of life).


He used a particularly slow single distillation process that was key to the flavor of the final product. Then the farmers would store the brandy in their own barrels until it had aged properly... a matter of years! The resultant spirit took on the name of the region, Armagnac!


Over the years, Prosper's reputation grew and grew until it became impossible for him to keep up with the demand. In 1925, his son Gaston took over the family business, but he had a different idea.

 

Lacking his father's wanderlust, and owning some 20 hectares of prime (1st Cru) vineyards in the heart of the Bas-Armagnac, he established the company as a permanent site where he could distill and sell his own brandy.


This afforded him much better control over the entire production, allowing him to make a far superior brandy.


The Delords don't use any pesticides or fertilizers on their vines, and their sandy soiled vineyards still produced very high quality fruit. This is also the rule for the other growers whose fruit ends up in Delord Armagnac.

 

He also continued using the same single distillation process at low temperature, which enables more flavors, fatty acids and character to remain in the spirit. This is now part of the legal character of an Armagnac.


He also had worked out an excellent recipe for his mash:  70% Ugni Blanc for a great foundation, 20% Baco for full roundness, 5% Colombard for some herbal notes and 5% Folle Blanche for its floral notes.
 

And finally, he would include 10% Gascon oak in his barrels to give good tannins, darker color and beautiful spices. He also aged his Armagnac longer than the law requires, knowing that the older it is, the smoother it becomes. (The original cellar still holds some of Prosper's Armagnac from 1904!)


This is the recipe used today by great-grandsons Jerome and Sylvain as they carry on the family tradition. They have established a reputation for quality that is unsurpassed.


Wine World is proud to be able to offer you to opportunity to own your own bottle of this Delord 25 Ans Bas-Armagnaceaux-de-vie. Aged for a minimum of 25 years, it has been called France's most natural and complex brandy. 

 

Delord Bas-Armagnac "25 Ans d'Age" - $79.99:  Elegant on the nose with peppery and spicy notes, it is the palate upon which this Armagnac will unveil its true self with a complexity of cocoa and spices, well blended tannins, vanilla, walnut and cinnamon. Its finish is long and silky with a delightful biscuity essence. Simply a great Bas-Armagnac eau-de-vie! 
 

If you're a fan of great brandies, then you are the person we were considering when the decision was made to offer this world class Armagnac on our shelves!

 

Ask one of our friendly, courteous sales associates to show it to you on your next visit!

 

Only at Wine World!

 

Now Arriving!

  

It's that time of year again!

   

It's Pumpkin Beer Time Again

 

Check out the early arrivals, and keep checking back as the selections will only continue to grow!

 

Get'n High on the Hog!

  

House Swine Cellars

 

Discover House Swine Cellars

 

We are aware that the State BBQ Bash wa recently held in Bel Air. We are also aware of the new wines that were unveiled there!

 

KLJ Ventures of Paso Robles, CA launched their new wine brand, House Swine Cellars as the "Signature Wine Sponsor" for the MD State BBQ Bash 2014!

 

As you enjoyed your ribs, smoked shoulders and pulled pork at this year's festival, you could also have gotten your first taste of these new wines - which incidentally, are now available at Wine World!

 

Here's a rundown of the 3 little pigs that you'll find on our shelves today:

 

2011 Chardonnay "Santa Barbara County" - $22.99:  You will squeal with delight when you taste this refreshing Chardonnay.  This delightful wine is bursting with aromas and subtle flavors of apple, peach and pear with hints of orange zest, honeysuckle and stony minerals on the finish.

 

2010 Pinot Noir "Santa Barbara County" - $22.99:  You will be as happy as a pig in a puddle when you experience the bright aromas of fresh berries and sweet oak spice in this cool climate Pinot Noir. You will taste an explosion of ripe cherry, strawberry and high-toned raspberry on the palate. This food-friendly wine has a mouth-watering texture, fine tannins, and is well balanced with a lively finish.

 

2011 Zinfandel "Paso Robles" - $22.99:  You will go hog wild when you taste this yummy Paso Zinfandel!  Aromas of blackberry, boysenberry, raspberry and dark cherry will fill your glass.  Enjoy dense layers of berries, chocolate, pepper and spice on the palate.

 

Combine equal parts friends and laughter then simply remember the 4 S's:  Swirl, Snort, Sip and Squeal!

 

Come by Wine World today and pick up a bottle or three, then go wee, wee, wee all the way home!

 

House Swines  

 

New From Hobo Wines

  

Hobo Wines

 

2013 "Parts & Labor"

Rhône Blend

 

It is a simple mission.

 

The ideas and preferences about wine are always changing, but at Hobo Wine Co. the core and root of what excites them is a constant. The possibility for wine to create community, to be history, to tell a story, and to transcend time and place is what enchants, captivates, and inspires!

 

Wines that achieve these ethereal qualities are produced by craftsmen/women with an artisan approach to growing grapes and making wines. They are Vignerons who raise their vines and wines with great thought and patience and understanding. And they are able to instill their wines with personality and character and a sense of place.

 

Though techniques vary somewhat from wine to wine, vineyard to vineyard, and vintage to vintage, the basic approach is consistent. Hobo believes in unforced wines... in making the best wine possible.

 

But there are lines they are not willing to cross. They believe in minimal processing as a goal, but modern winemaking as an option. Stylistically, they strive for balance above all else, but varietal and geographical distinction are also goals.

 

While Hobo founder Kenny Likitprakong has no vineyards of his own, environmental sensitivity is important to him. He establishes relationships with likeminded growers in many areas of California, and sources his fruit - much of it organic, all of it responsibly farmed - from them. He then ships it to his winery in Santa Rosa.

 

He says that for a long time he has been wanting to produce a red wine that would fit into the idea of what the California version of a French bistro wine might be - light on its feet, great with food, fun and easy to drink, and almost above all else, affordable.


We believe he may have achieved that goal with a new wine released under his "Folk Machine" line of wines. Hobo Wines actually produces five distinct labels. This line was created in 2005 primarily as a home for his Pinot Noir stylings, but over the years it has become the main venue for his more esoteric line of wines.

 

It's the perfect place for his new...

 

"Parts & Labor" Red Blend - $16.99:  As the name implies, this wine seems almost simplistic in the makeup of its basic "parts", while the artisan "labor" shows through in its single greatest attribute - balance!

 

This premier vintage is a wonderful blend of Rhône varietals, all from in Mendocino County. It is made of 35% Carignane from 100 year old organically farmed vines planted in Redwood Valley, 20% Grenache from McDowell Valley, and 45% Syrah from the biodynamically farmed Vecino Vineyard in Potter Valley. 

 

Carignane is a grape with high acid and tannins, and offers some wonderfully vinous and vegetal aromas, particularly when from these older vines. Although it is not the dominant component of this wine, it does form the backbone, setting the structural framework with lots of plum and blackberry notes.

 

Add to this frame just the right amount of spicy Grenache to lighten the mood and tame those tannins a bit. The sweetness of this grape also works to rein in some of the earthier aspects of the Carignane while adding a touch of strawberry and black cherry that further adds complexity to the mixture.

 

Then tying it all together, the amazing ability of Syrah to add a sense of place, depth and beauty is brought to bear as the majority "part" of the overall blend. While adding body and softening the tannins just another touch, it brings a peppery spice goodness that entwines the other parts in a ballet of impeccable balance between acids, tannins, tastes and textures.

 

In tasting this wine for the first time, I was struck by how delicate it is, and was then amazed by the way the various parts unveil themselves, as if slowly stripping away layer after layer of flavor - first the red fruits... strawberry, raspberry, cherry... followed by darker currant, plum and blackberries, while the spice notes remain as the constant thread connecting one layer to the next.

 

It was lighter than I expected from the deep color, and quite lively, kept alert by bright acids, and yet the structure was undeniable with tannins that, though present, were not at all astringent or overbearing.

 

A subtle earthy, leathery backnote was the intro to a medium length finish that certainly left me smiling! It's hard to believe all of this is going on in a California Rhône style blend for under $20!

 

The sad part of this tale is that, as is the case with most of Hobo's wines, production was extremely limited. Only 900 cases were produced, and word on this one has gotten out quickly. 

 

Elizabeth is trying to lay in as much as she can get her hands on because quite simply stated, Kenny hit a home run on this one!  We don't expect it to last very long, and we're going to miss this one when it's gone!

 

So we'd like to suggest that you give it a try, and once you confirm for yourself what we already know, set a few bottles aside to share with special friends and for special times. 

 

Parts and Labor Label 

 

Fat and Juicy!

  

Fat and Juicy Mixes

 

Presenting the

Country's Fastest Growing Bloody Mary Mix!

 

The Fat and Juicy brand was born of bandmates Joe Good and John Glenn's desire to have an extra high grade Bloody Mary with true homemade taste.

 

Admittedly it was the "morning after the night before", and they were seeking a little "hair of the dog that bit them"!

 

These two friends collaborated on what would become the most awesome combination of ingredients to ever chase a hangover!

 

The first ingredient also provided the name... some "Fat and Juicy" tomatoes. Then they added mix of roasted vegetable purees, some fresh horseradish, celery, garlic, and a signature hint of sultry smoky heat. Add a little vodka, and before long, they were ready to pick up their guitars and jam!

 

It was too good to keep to themselves, and since friends don't let friends drink bad Bloody Marys, they just had to share.

 

Eventually they were making so many one-gallon jugs for friends each weekend that they decided it was time for "Fat and Juicy" to make it onto store shelves.

 

That's how it all started for this former software company executive and attorney. Oh they still play music together, but now they focus full throttle on Fat and Juicy! 

 

They even added a Margarita Mix to the lineup using key limes and a hint of fresh orange and tamarind! It too is awesome!

 

Whether your preference is vine-ripened boldness or sun-soaked awesome, "Fat and Juicy" has you covered, and Wine World has them in stock, priced at just $6.99 for the 32 oz bottle!

 

Pick some up on your next visit.

 

Fat and Juicy Cocktail Mixes

 

Only at Wine World!

 

The Perfect Complement!

  

Breckeridge Distillery

 

Discover Breckenridge Vodka!

 

Now that you're ready for a Bloody Mary, may we suggest a new vodka to go with the mix?

 

From the world's highest distillery, in the heart of Colorado's ski country, we proudly present Breckenridge Vodka!

 

Warning! This one isn't just another boring neutral Vodka. At 9600 feet, the minerality of the Colorado snowmelt water that is used for proofing the spirit defines one of the world's only Vodka terroirs!

 

This Vodka is bursting with flavor! Made from 100% Midwest sweet corn and run through Breckenridge's 700 gallon copper pot still five times for purity, the 194 proof spirit that emerges can stand on its own!

 

It is then filtered through coconut shell charcoal to remove any fusil oils that may have formed during the distillation process, and then it is introduced to that snowmelt!

 

The water adds its own character whileBreckenridge Vodka Tan taking the Vodka to a smooth and consistent 80 proof, ready to be mixed with your Fat and Juicy cocktail mix, blended into your favorite cocktail, or sipped neatly from a frozen shot glass!

 

The first thing you will notice, especially when tasted on its own, is a woodsy, herbaceous forest note that comes across with a bit of sweetness and perhaps a vague hint of wintergreen. While most Vodkas are plain and bland on the palate, this one seems to deliver something extra... a surprising bit of creamy crispness.

 

The folks at Breckenridge Distilling say they used to mine gold from these mountains, but now they just win it! Well this Vodka was a winner at both the International Wine and Spirits, and World Spirits Competitions!

 

Pick up your Breckenridge Vodka at Wine World today! It's priced at just $18.99/750 ml, and $28.99 for the 1.75 L!

 

The water really does make a difference! 

 

Brand New from Scotland

  

Monkey Shoulder Logo

 

Monkey Shoulder "Batch 27" Triple Malt Scotch Whisky

 

What is "Monkey Shoulder"?

 

Introducing the world's first "Triple Malt" Scotch!

 

Created by Speyside legends William Grant & Sons, Monkey Shoulder was the brainchild of legendary Malt Master David Stewart.

 

He had the notion that if Single Malts are good, three malts, especially if they're the right three, could be even better! He decided to try!

 

To accomplish his goal, he combined single malts from the head company's three Dufftown distilleries which include:

  • William Grant's powerhouse Glenfiddich;
  • the malty, honeyed whisky from Balvenie; and finally,
  • Kininvie - a lesser-known distillery which is almost never released as a single malt in its own right.

Each of the chosen malts mature in first-fill former bourbon casks that have been reworked to impart a smooth and mellow oaken vanilla flavor as the whisky rests for specific periods of time. 

 

Then they are blended together in a small marrying tun where they get acquainted with one another for anything from three to six months before bottling.

 

That's what Monkey Shoulder is!

 


No, what is "Monkey Shoulder"?

 

Well it's absolutely delicious! It's smooth and rich... a blend of three distinct 100% malt Speyside Scotch whiskies, distilled, matured and bottled in Dufftown, Scotland.

  

The three individual malts play very well together, offering zesty orange aromas that are complemented by mellow vanilla, honey and spiced oak notes. 

 

Its flavors really showcase that spicy vanilla taste on a very malty palate that turns creamy and juicy with butterscotch and honeyed apricot notes. It has a super smooth medium length finish that offers a subtle reminder of orange and spice as it closes.

 

It's pretty damned good is what it is, especially for just $32.99!

 

 

No, I mean what is "Monkey Shoulder"?

 

Oh, "Monkey Shoulder"!  I thought you were asking about Monkey Shoulder...

 

"Monkey Shoulder" is the term that the old-time maltsters used to describe the workers at the end of a long shift!

 

It's hard work gently turning shovelful after shovelful of malted barley as it dries.

 

When the whistle finally blew and they handed their shovel off to the next shift, sometimes those powerful arms would be so tired they would hang down a bit like a monkey's, so they nicknamed it "monkey shoulder".

 

Of course that was in the old days, and working conditions have improved a lot since then, so even though these particular Dufftown distilleries still make their malt by those same time honored traditions, this condition is hardly ever seen any more.

 

They just named the whisky "Monkey Shoulder" as a sort of a tribute to those old time malt men! They even put 3 monkeys on the shoulder of the bottle, one for each of the distilleries, to further deepen the tribute.

 

So what do you say?  Are you ready to give Monkey Shoulder "Batch 27" Triple Malt Scotch Whisky a try? 

 

We hope so, because we've got it sitting on the shelf just waiting for you at Wine World today!

 

Tasting a dram at the end of your long, hard day is the perfect way to relieve your own version of "Monkey Shoulder", whatever it may be!

 

 
 

 

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