What's in a name?

A LOT!

We often get asked about the meaning of the names of our wines and labels.  Our wines definitely have very interesting names and back stories.  Here is just one example:

Besadien

The label from our Besadien Pinot Noir from Oregon came about because we wanted a label to depict the beauty and nature of the Willamette valley.  We were actually searching for something related to trees or a forest when we came upon Kristo Dagorov's artwork (lips series).  We thought this was the perfect label to depict the wine's complexity.  The word, Besadien, is a play on the Spanish word beso, which means "kiss," which fit the label perfectly!

 

Make Your Gifting Bright

The holiday season is well underway – lights are up on shrubs, gables and fire escapes, department store windows are dressed to the nines and party invites are flooding in. 

Of course, all of this means that the pressure is on to finish up (or start!) your holiday shopping. This won't come as a surprise, but we at The Artisan Collection are firm believers in the gift that keeps on giving – WINE! 

Have no fear, we've put together a quick roundup of suggestions for even the toughest person on your list. And please, if you you’ve still got someone who’s stumping you – write us a message in the comments section! 

 

The Resident Sweet Tooth - Bodegas Robles Organic Piedra Luenga PX

We are so pleased to have added Bodegas Robles to our portfolio this year. This fourth generation Montilla-Moriles winery is the only one in the world to offer a full line of fortified wines, from Fino to PX. The Piedra Luenga organic PX is a beautiful deep amber with a light, floral sweetness and is absolutely heavenly with blue cheese. The elegantly etched glass bottle makes it even more of a treat.

 

 

 

DE MULLER VERMOUTHS

 
 

This one won’t be joining us until 2016, but boy is it worth the wait. (And gift certificates fit so neatly into stockings!) Recently named “Best Vermouth in Catalonia” and given a gold medal by the Vinari Awards, this wine’s secret recipe includes 150 herbs and spices and spends a year aging in oak barrels. Even more exciting, this is one of very few Spanish Vermouths currently available in the USA. And who doesn’t enjoy being able to say they “tried it first”? 

The Beer Lover - our Sidras

Fourth generation cider maker, Aitor Bereziartua, demonstrates his escanciar technique.

Fourth generation cider maker, Aitor Bereziartua, demonstrates his escanciar technique.

We offer two delicious Spanish natural ciders – Ramos del Valle from Asturias and Bere Aran from the Basque region. Dry and delicious, these Sidras both pair beautifully with food (even Martha Stewart Living agrees). Their effervescence is caused by a pouring method called "escanciar" in which the cider is poured in small quantities from high above a wide-mouthed glass. With a little practice, we're sure this can be your favorite beer lover's big party trick for this holiday season.

 

Something to Celebrate? - Gran Gesta Brut Reserva

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To be clear, we categorize just about any accomplishment as "something to Celebrate," including making it through your week! Cava is made using the "Methode Traditionelle Champenoise," the same method used to make that most famous of sparkling wines, Champagne. Gran Gesta Brut Reserva is made from the top 5% of the fruit from the vineyard and only native yeasts are used for fermentation. All of this leads to fine bubbles that pair well with any occasion. So go ahead, give that special someone a cork to pop for whatever celebration life brings their way!

 

 

 

What's on Tap?!

We have an exciting new addition to the family - our ever popular, estate grown Brunn Grüner Veltliner will now be available in a 20L Slimline KeyKeg. Wine on tap is already very popular in Europe and is becoming a common sight on this side of the Atlantic. Here's a quick overview of some of the reasons bars and restaurants are increasingly carving out room for wines on their tap lines.

FRESHNESS

Perhaps the best known benefit of a keg system is how well it keeps wine fresh. In the case of our Brunn Grüner Veltliner, the KeyKeg Slimline has a similar design to a bag in box (they call their's 'bag in ball'). The wine is held in an aluminum-lined inner bag, surrounded by a hard plastic case. The inner bag is then put under pressure by an inert gas. Thus, the wine never comes in contact with oxygen, meaning a consistently fresh glass of wine. 

You can watch some nifty demonstration videos on the KeyKeg website, if you'd like to learn more.

20L Slimline KeyKeg

20L Slimline KeyKeg

SAVINGS (for the wallet & the planet)

It is well known that buying in bulk saves you money, and kegs are no exception. This benefit is aided by the fact that wineries save on packaging and shipping when using kegs vs. bottles. On the restaurant level, waste associated with a bottle-based wine by the glass program is eliminated. We all know that every drop of wine that goes down the drain is a small tragedy, but in many restaurants, half-full bottles have to be dumped after being open too long. Heartbreaking.

The lowered cost to the environment is also a big advantage to kegs. Our Brunn Grüner Veltliner 20L keg holds the equivalent of 20 one liter bottles of wine. The packaging (bottle, cork, box, etc) for those 20 bottles would weigh approximately 30 lbs. Alternately, one 20L Slimline KeyKeg leaves behind a mere 2.3 lbs of recyclable packaging. (That is over 90% less waste!) This also means reduced shipping cost and less fuel used to transport the wine, leading to a smaller carbon footprint. Let's drink to that!

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FLEXIBILITY

The ability of KeyKegs to keep wine fresh means restaurants and bars have a greater flexibility in how they serve the wine. At Lois, a new East Village wine bar in NYC, their entire rotating list is served through a tap system, with 4 different pour sizes offered (100, 175, 500 & 1000 mls). This means guests have the option of tasting through three, 100 ml glasses of different wines or sharing a 1 liter carafe with friends. 

Barrels aging in the Brunn cellar

Barrels aging in the Brunn cellar

HAVE NO FEAR...

The centuries old tradition of wine by the bottle is certainly not going anywhere. Allowing a wine to age and mature, the ceremony of popping a cork, and the beauty and personality conveyed through label design are all features that can't be replaced. However, the savings in cost, environmental benefits and flexibility offered by wine by kegs mean that they're a movement that is sure to grow.

And really, who can argue with another way to enjoy wine?

Highlights of Our Adventures in Spain

This year, we brought a group of 11 distributors to meet our winemakers in Spain. We had a great time with this friendly, eager-to-learn, group hailing from New York, Colorado, Missouri, Washington, D.C., North and South Carolina and Vermont.

We are so grateful to our winemakers for spending time with us and explaining, so much better than we can, what makes their wines special. Each winery was a completely unique and delightful experience!

Not only were the wines AMAZING but the food was even better. From homemade broth to multicourse meals cooked by some of the best chefs in Spain, we can definitively say we didn't have any bad meals! Here are some highlights of our trip:

We started our day visiting Bodegas Gotica, producer of Balnea. We met and chatted with Maria Jesus Hernandez, winemaker of Balnea. For lunch, we enjoyed a Tapas Style Lunch of jamon serrano, tortilla espanola, and croquetas!Before heading to Maisulan Winery in Rioja Alavesa, Eva, the winemaker, gave us a walking tour through LaGuardia, a historical village with some of the oldest Medieval era walls. The entirety of the grounds in this villageare composed of old cellars! It was cold and pouring outside and, when we arrived at the winery, Eva's mother had prepared homemade chicken broth to warm us up! 

Maisulan means "Good hard work" in the Basque language, and that is what husband and wife owners and winemakers Eva and Luis Maisulan practice in their winery. They hand harvest all their grapes and produce biodynamic wines. We then were treated to an amazing dinner at a very cool restaurant in Hotel Viura, in the small village of VillaBuena.

 

Stay tuned for more -- We've only just begun!

A Celebration of Our Women Wine Makers!

March is Women's History Month and yesterday was International Women's day! We would like to take this opportunity to celebrate our Women Wine Makers. Many or these remarkable women are at the forefront of their fields, leading the way in sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking. We are so proud to work with them!

Maria Jesus Hernandez of Balnea, with Florencio

Maria Jesus Hernandez of Balnea, with Florencio

Maria Jesus Hernadez is the winemaker for our Verdejo, Balnea. For the Balnea wine, Maria ferments at very low temperatures for 2-3 times longer than the region's standards to extract the wonderful aromas and flavors of this wine. She is the only winemaker in this region experimenting with this novel method of fermentation.

Andrea Marchiori of Marchiori and Barraud, with her youngest daughter,  in the family's vineyards.

Andrea Marchiori of Marchiori and Barraud, with her youngest daughter,  in the family's vineyards.

The other half of the the well known Marchiori and Barraud husband and wife team, Andrea Marchiori holds a degree in winemaking from the University of Mendoza and worked in some of the most well known wineries in California before creating her own wines. The vineyards are organically farmed. 

Eva Maisulan (right), her husband Luis Maisulan (left) and Florencio (center)

Eva Maisulan (right), her husband Luis Maisulan (left) and Florencio (center)

Eva Maisulan holds a degree in Enology and a Masters degree in Wine Technology and Innovation. She and her husband Luis own a small winery in Rioja Alavesa where they practice organic and biodynamic viticulture.

Sandra Estevez of Vinicola Del Priorat

Sandra Estevez of Vinicola Del Priorat

Sandra Estevez is creating some extraordinary wines at Vinicola Del Priorat. The Onix wines have had some of their best vintages yet!

Pack Your Bags, We're Going to Spain!

It's that time of the year again! Every February, we have the privilege of bringing a select group of distributors to Spain to meet and learn more about our wonderful family of wine producers. During this amazing week, our guests will stay in historic hotels --most of the hotels are converted castles that are now called Paradores. In additional to being able to speak with our winemakers in depth and learn what makes them so passionate about their work, we will have the chance to sample local foods and experience local Spanish traditions. 

Our route over the next week, starting in Madrid on Sunday night!

Our route over the next week, starting in Madrid on Sunday night!

We will be posting our adventures all of next week. Please join us as we visit some of our favorite wine producers! Below are some photos from our trip last year!



New York Food Journal Visits Bodegas Baigorri!

We were excited to read about New York Food Journal's recent visit to La Rioja and, specifically, to the beautiful Bodegas Baigorri! We are even more excited to be visiting this winery again in a few weeks! The winery was built on the side of a hill with breathtaking views of the region. All the work with the grapes and the wine is done by gravity and, because everything is glass, you get an amazing view of the wine making process! Read more about Bodegas Baigorri here! 

Enjoy some pictures of the winery, below!


Sparkling Wine Shopping: What’s Popping?

Shopping for any wine can be daunting, especially if you’re considering options you haven’t tried before. Whether you are trying to avoid the heavy price tag of Champagne or are just interested in trying something new, there is a quality choice to be found on the shelves. Not all that glitters is gold, but the sound of a cork popping from a chilled bottle of sparkling wine rivals the sound of a baby laughing or an angel singing, so get out there and explore! 

Florencio demonstrating the Art of Sabrage on a well chilled bottle

Florencio demonstrating the Art of Sabrage on a well chilled bottle

If the “real deal” Champagne is what you’re after, ask for Champagne from a smaller boutique house. We do and are rarely disappointed. (Below are some great small producers we recently tried and loved!)

What is Cava, any way?

Slowly getting more shelf real estate, you may recognize the word “Cava” neighboring some of your go-to choices of Champagne, Prosecco, or Asti Spumante. Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine with very similar traits to Champagne (secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle as is the case with Champagne). A well-made Cava has a great balance of fruit and creaminess. 

The quality to price ratio for Cava is excellent; some $20 Cavas can drink better than some $50 Champagnes.

Top Picks: Covides Gran Gesta Brut Reserva (90 points, Wine Enthusiast), LaCueva Brut Reserva Methode Traditionelle

Italian Sparkling Wines: Prosecco and (Asti) Spumante

Prosecco and Cava outsell Champagne in volume. When you order a cocktail with a sparkling wine in it, there’s a very good chance they’ve used Prosecco.  It’s emphasis on fruit and larger bubbles help the elements of the cocktail come together. Prosecco is a great choice on its own as well, especially if your tastes favor more fruit. 

Spumante, the most often seen is Asti Spumante, tends to be a bit sweeter but is made more similarly to Champagne than is Prosecco. Asti Spumante is made from Moscato grapes.

Top Pick: Prosecco from Forchir (coming soon!)

Things to look for in your sparkling wine: freshness, brightness, crispness, and smaller bubbles. Small, quick moving bubbles are a sign of a high quality wine.

CHEERS!

CHEERS!

Happy Holidays: Perfect Wines For The Season!

We’re here to help you wine-loving entertainers with some selections for the holidays that are sure to be crowd pleasers. These wines aren’t from the big #buzzword producers, so they may also serve as a topic of conversation.

Covides Gran Gesta Cava Brut Reserva (90 points, WE)

It’s the holidays, you’re celebrating, and this is wine fits the bill! It’s a great value wine, perfect for entertaining. Refined bubbles, with an easy to swallow price tag. It has round fruit notes of apple,pineapple, and white raisin that are simply pleasant on the palate.

Pairings: Bubbles go with almost everything!

 

Cicchitti Primmo Magnum 2013:

Magnums are great for entertaining.  More people, more wine, less clutter. The Cicchitti Primmo is a delicious ruby-red Malbec; fruit forward without being aggressive. It has great balanced smoothness and good body.

Pairings: A variety of meat roasts

 

 

 

 

 

Our Visit to Argentina

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we were fortunate to visit with all of our wine producers in Argentina. Visiting each family winery, Ciccchitti, Melipal, Machiori and Barraud, Durigutti, Ricominciare and Alto3, was a special experience.  We are proud to work with these crafts men and women, and are happy to be able to show a glimpse of their life’s work here.

 

Bodegas Cicchitti

We have been working with this winery for 8 years, each year having the wonderful opportunity to spend time with the whole family. Pepe, the patriarch and winemaker of the family, balances a willingness to try innovative techniques with the family traditions passed on to him by his grandfather who was originally from Italy. Cicchitti maintains a commitment to “vinos pensados”, wines created mindfully. They are making wines for the long run, for the next generation, and we hope to continue to support this wonderful effort.

Spending Time With The Cicchitti Family

Spending Time With The Cicchitti Family

Pepe (Jose) and his wife, Sylvia, currently run the winery leading their family team and training the next generation. They live not far from the winery with their 4 children, Jose, Ignacio, Augustin, and Mercedes. Jose is the oldest, and is learning the ropes of eonology after completing a degree in business from University. 

It was our privilege to see the work of Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barraud in their vineyard in Lujan De Cuyo. Their vineyards sprawl over several plots, with the Andes Mountains setting an amazing backdrop.  They work with old Malbec vines to create some amazing wines. 

 

During our trip, they opened their home to us where we explored an onsite “zoo” where they raise chickens, a cow, llamas, goats, sheep, and horses. We shared the afternoon with their three lovely daughters while Luis prepared a roast of baby goat for dinner. 

Familia Durrigutti

The Aguijon De Abeja brand, by winemaker brothers Hector and Pablo Durrigutti, is relatively new to our portfolio and this was our first visit to the winery. We felt very fortunate to spend time speaking with Hector and Pablo, who are extremely dedicated to leaving a lasting legacy. These brothers trained with the best wineries in the world and have a wealth of winemaking experience as well as talent. They started off with literally only a few barrels but since have since built a beautiful winery to create unique wines using grapes from as far away as Salta and Patagonia. During our visit we enjoyed the fantastic setting of their impeccably  maintained vineyards. 

We also enjoyed a traditional asado (roast) that the winery prepares for its staff each week! 


Artisan Collection's Thanksgiving Wine Picks

It’s nearly impossible to pick one wine that will go with everything served during Thanksgiving. Well, there is one. We call it Champagne. But, besides the exquisite accompaniment of a little bubbly, it is not easy to pick “a” Thanksgiving Day wine as many feasts include an all day indulgence of appetizers followed by “the meal” and then dessert. Today we present you with our pairing for your turkey, followed by an easy dessert pairing.

So it’s “MEAL” time and you’re drinking…QUO Premium Grenache 2010 90 points, International Wine Cellar

Made with 100% Grenache grapes from hand-harvested 40+ year old vines, this wine is aged 8 months in French and American oak.

Why it works: The delicious dark berry and fruit aromas will stimulate your guests' appetites. In the mouth, QUO Premium is smooth and flavorful, with enough acidity and spiciness to complement rather than overwhelm your main dishes.   Plus, the beautiful white and gold label doubles as a centerpiece and conversation piece!

Tasting Notes: Glass-staining violet.  Ripe raspberry and boysenberry aromas are complemented by notes of white pepper and potpourri. Pliant and sweet, with very good depth and no rough edges to its juicy red and dark berry flavors. Shows an appealing jamminess on the finish, which clings with very good persistence and resonating spiciness. 90 points

 

Dessert Pairing:

There's always room for pumpkin pie, and you're washing it down with…Spatzi Riesling

 Spatzi comes from 100% estate Riesling grown in Pflaz, Germany. 

Why it works: This wine is well-structured with great balance and acidity. It is a semi-dry Riesling, making it “sweet enough.” The crispness and acidity provide a nice balance to a creamy, spicy pie.

Everyone wants more pie, so the best part, you get a 1 L bottle!

 

Recipe: Mini Pumpkin Pies

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Pillsbury pre-made frozen pie crusts (2 crusts)
  • 1 can pumpkin puree 15 oz.
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk 14 oz.
  •  ½ tsp clove
  •  ½ tsp nutmeg
  •  1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 eggs

Makes 12 mini pies

*Inspired by Blog “Home Is Where The Boat Is”

1.    Pre-heat oven to 425 °F.

2.    Mix pumpkin, condensed milk, spices, and eggs together in a bowl.  Set aside.

3.    Cut piecrusts to fit cupcake pan (about 4 inch circles). Spray or grease cupcake tin before pressing crust into pan. Fill with pie mixture.

4.    You can use the crust scraps to decorate your pies with latticework or decorative leaves.

5.    Place uncooked pies in oven at 425 °F for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 °F at this time and bake an additional 20 minutes. Pies will rise slightly and settle.  Pies are done when a toothpick or knife can be inserted and come out clean.

6.    Important: Let the pies cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing.

 

 

A Visit to Spanish Craft Cider ~ Sidra Fran

Over the summer, we enjoyed a memorable visit to Sidra Fran, the producer of Ramos del Valle traditional Asturian Cider. Sidra Fran is located in the very north of Asturias, 45 minutes away from Redes Natural Park. We were fortunate to stay in a beautifully situated eco-hotel (Tierra Del Aqua) at the top of a traditional village in the natural park.

Sidra Fran, in its third generation of family ownership and operation, was founded in 1918. Among the five siblings currently running Sidra Fran is lead cider maker Roberto Ramos.

First, Roberto gave us a tour of the Sidra Fran “Sidreria.” This is the name given to a traditional restaurant that serves cider and food. Traditionally, guests served themselves cider from huge wooden barrels with spigots at one end of the Sidreria.  

 

 

 

 

Next, we visited the fermentation facility. The term for the cider production building in Spanish is “lagar.” This is similar to the word for winery. Roberto explained to us that each lagar has its own distinctive smell due to its own unique, naturally occurring yeasts that are used to ferment the cider. The fermentation is completely natural, and the cider is not filtered, resulting in a cloudy appearing natural product that is less than 7% alcohol.  

 

 

 

 

We ended the tour with a visit to some of the apple orchards. Did you know that Asturias has more than 800 varieties of native apples, which are used to make cider? Additionally, because the cider is all-natural, there is very little residual sugar (<2grams/liter) and it is 100% gluten free.

 

 

 

               

A lesson on drinking traditional Spanish cider:

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Whether straight from the barrel or from a bottle, cider should be “escandiada” or poured from an altitude into the glass to create the pleasant natural oxygenation.  Additionally, only a few sips (a “culin”) should be poured at a time for maximum enjoyment.   

 

 

 

 

Some traditional foods that we had in Asturias include oven-roasted baby lamb and traditional Asturian bean stew. Below we’ve even included a recipe for traditional Asturian cider sangria for your Autumn enjoyment.

"Secret" Spanish Hard Cider Sangria Recipe

(Courtesy of Carmen at the Hotel Tierra Del Agua, Asturias, Spain)
1 cup sugar
2 cans of Sprite/7-up or Fanta Limon 
1 cup white rum (or pour bottle of white rum and count to 10)
1/3 bottle of Ramon Del Valle Spanish Cider
1 sliced green apple 
2 sprigs spearmint
10 ice cubes
Mix all ingredients in a large jar and Viola!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collaboration with Mast Brothers at their Hootenanny Fundraiser

Mast Brothers, artisanal chocolatiers also based out of Brooklyn, hosted a folk music showcase and fundraiser with artist Willy Mason in their factory show room.  A portion of the proceeds were donated to the Newport Folk Festivals’s music education efforts. The event featured live music, wines donated by The Artisan Collection, and beer donated by Brooklyn Brewery. Among the wines donated were our Sancerre, Carodorum Issos, and La Ardilla Sparkling Moscato.