GSN Review: The Vice Tri Blend Wine

The USA Triathlon Foundation recently announced a partnership with The Vice Wine, a luxury winery based in Napa Valley, California, and operating out of California and New York, through 2022.

Proceeds from The Vice Wine’s triathlon-inspired luxury limited edition batch “The Tri Blend” will benefit the USA Triathlon Foundation and help to support its mission, which is to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run. The Vice Wine is co-founded by Malek Amrani, a multi-time member of USA Triathlon’s amateur Team USA, and his wife, Torie Greenberg.

“Elite and amateur triathletes alike have an ongoing quest for improvement in sports, while maintaining a clean and healthy diet, which is a pillar of the triathlete lifestyle,” Amrani, Founder and Winemaker of The Vice Wine, said. “In 2017, triathlon became a vice for me and helped me tremendously thrive in my field of winemaking. I’m proud that the simple pleasure of enjoying a glass of The Vice Wine can now help the USA Triathlon Foundation achieve its mission.”

The Tri Blend is available exclusively at The Vice Wine’s online shop at thevicewine.com. Based on triathlon’s three disciplines, the blend includes three distinctive grapes and is ultimately comprised of 16 percent Petite Sirah, 54 percent Malbec and 30 percent Cabernet Franc. The inspiration behind the precise blending is the percentage of total race time spent on each discipline — swim, bike and run — by world champion Katie Zaferes en route to her victory at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“In triathlon, you have to consistently train for a long season and excel at all three sports during a race to score a victory,” Amrani said. “As in triathlon, I’ve worked very hard for the past three years to craft three unique wines from three vineyards of Napa Valley to blend this winner.”

“When I found out the inspiration behind The Vice ‘Tri Blend’ was my win at the ITU Grand Final 2019, I was both honored and excited,” Zaferes said. “It’s such an original and neat way to celebrate that day. I love that the blend of the wine is based on each component of the race, which really makes it all the more meaningful. I’m not usually an avid wine drinker, but this type of specialty wine has me looking forward to both savoring it and holding onto it just as I wanted to do with that moment in Lausanne last year. I just can’t wait for the moment when we can reunite with family and friends again and celebrate with such a meaningful wine that brings back many happy memories as we start a new journey to get back to racing, while being able to support the mission of the USA Triathlon Foundation.”

The Vice Wine will continuously craft dedicated batches for the triathlon community in support of the USA Triathlon Foundation. The Vice Wine will be available in the expo area for athletes over 21 years of age at the Legacy Triathlon in Long Beach, California, and the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee. In addition, USA Triathlon annual members will receive a discount code via email for 25 percent off of all The Vice Wine products through May 25, as well as additional exclusive offers throughout the year.

The Vice Tri Blend Wine (14.6 ABV)
Visual: Rich raspberry red.
Nose: Heavy fruit with more of a sweet bent than an oaky one. The scent is luxurious, well appointed and mouthwatering.
Taste: Initially, it has a sweet grape character, but upon a second quick sip, the tannins come out and create a dry foil to the bottom heavy fruit.
Finish: Medium long, as is appropriate for this style.
Overall: This is a very well blended wine that has quite a bit of bright character and vivacity. You can definitely tell that the Malbec is in the majority, which makes for a great canvas upon which the Cab Franc and the Petite Sirah lay upon. An excellent choice to enjoy with a light meal.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: The Vice Wine

GSN Alert: 2020 James Beard Award Beverage Nominees

The James Beard Awards are given in many categories, including chefs and restaurants, books, journalism, and broadcast media, plus restaurant design, leadership, humanitarian work, and lifetime achievement

Beverage with Recipes
Last Call: Bartenders on Their Final Drink and the Wisdom and Rituals of Closing Time
Brad Thomas Parsons
(Ten Speed Press)

The Martini Cocktail: A Meditation on the World’s Greatest Drink, with Recipes
Robert Simonson
(Ten Speed Press)

The NoMad Cocktail Book
Leo Robitschek
(Ten Speed Press)

Beverage without Recipes
The Complete Guide to Japanese Drinks: Sake, Shochu, Japanese Whisky, Beer, Wine, Cocktails and Other Beverages
Stephen Lyman and Chris Bunting
(Tuttle Publishing)

Red & White: An Unquenchable Thirst for Wine
Oz Clarke
(Little, Brown Book Group)

World Atlas of Wine 8th Edition
Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson
(Mitchell Beazley)

Wine, Spirits, and Other Beverages
“How Climate Change Impacts Wine”
Eric Asimov
The New York Times

“May I Help You With That Wine List?”
Ray Isle
Food & Wine

“Seltzer Is Over. Mineral Water Is Forever.”
Jordan Michelman
PUNCH

Outstanding Bar Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates exceptional care and skill in the selection, preparation, and serving of cocktails, spirits, and/or beer.

Anvil Bar & Refuge
Houston

Expatriate
Portland, OR

Kimball House
Decatur, GA

Lost Lake
Chicago

Trick Dog
San Francisco

Outstanding Wine Program
A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in wine service through a carefully considered wine list and a well-informed approach to helping customers choose and drink wine.

Bacchanal
New Orleans

Canard
Portland, OR

COTE
NYC

Miller Union
Atlanta

Night + Market Sahm
Venice, CA

Spiaggia
Chicago

Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer
A beer, wine, or spirits producer who demonstrates consistency and exceptional skill in his or her craft.

Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall
High Wire Distilling Co.
Charleston, SC

Cathy Corison
Corison Winery
St. Helena, CA

Drew Kulsveen
Willett Distillery
Bardstown, KY

Todd Leopold and Scott Leopold
Leopold Bros.
Denver

Lance Winters
St. George Spirits
Alameda, CA

 

GSN Review: Grüvi Alcohol-Free Beer & Prosecco

Grüvi, a mover and shaker in the alcohol-free craft-brewed category, recently announced its newest non-alcoholic brew — Grüvi Stout — a full-bodied alcohol-free beer. Helping consumers continue 2020 with the best wellness intentions, Grüvi Stout is now available for a limited time online and in select retail stores.
Grüvi Stout delivers the distinct characteristics of barley and chocolate malt one expects in a Stout-style beer, but without the alcohol. This dark ale contains hints of toasted malt, along with mild oat, coffee, and honey notes.
The next generation of America is the most social and diverse ever, with a greater focus on health and wellness, as well as community and connection. Whether you are sober curious or just looking for an alcohol alternative, Grüvi offers a line of full-flavored, alcohol-free beer and wine experiences.
“Your health is your wealth, and if you’re looking to drink less or not drink at all, it’s our hope that Grüvi Stout can help you be healthy and stay social, one beer at a time.” said Niki Sawni, founder of Grüvi.
We were sent a sampler of Grüvi Stout, along with cans of their IPA, Lager & Prosecco.

GSN’s Thoughts: After trying the three non-alcoholic beers, we were most impressed with the stout. It had a real depth of character and a true dark, malty flavor. I could drink this one regularly. The lager was very similar to a lot of NA beers we’re had over the years. Refreshing, but not quite like a true beer. Still, better than many currently on the market. The IPA was the least successful, seeming more like a bitter soda than an India Pale Ale. Lastly, the Prosecco, which was more like a very tart grape soda. It lacked the dryness of a brut, but also had a distinct concord grape taste. Not similar enough to a real Prosecco, we will pass on this one.

GSN Ratings: Stout A- | Lager B | IPA C+ | Prosecco C-

For more information go to: Get Gruvi

GSN Alert: National Drink Wine Day – February 18th

National Drink Wine Day was started to celebrate and spread the love of wine.  Loved and consumed by millions, friends and families across the county honor this sacred liquid every year on February 18.  Friendships, great times and reduced risk of heart disease are all great reasons to drink wine.  Spread the gift and experience of National Drink Wine Day by joining their Facebook fan page or follow them on Twitter.

For more information go to: National Drink Wine Day

GSN Review: Ohza Mimosa

Ohza Mimosas, the ready-to-drink, reinvented mimosa in a can has officially launched online ordering and shipping to 29 US states. Ohza was founded by 25-year-old Ryan Ayotte after attempting to mix mimosas with his friends on a tippy boat off of Cape Cod, MA. From making a mess on the high seas, to lugging bottles, cartons, and cups to the beach – he knew there had to be an easier way.

Redefining the ready-to-drink beverage, Ohza’s gluten free mimosas have the calorie count of a hard seltzer, but the flavor of a classic cocktail – all while containing real juice, no added sugar, no artificial flavors, a low ABV for all day sip-ability, and a clean nutrition label. Crafted with Brut sparkling wine from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York and real orange juice, one 6-pack of Ohzas is equal to nine mimosa flutes, or two bottles of bubbly and half a juice carton.

After a successful launch with cans in 2019, restaurant and bar managers loved the taste and convenience of Ohza’s mimosas, but some preferred not to serve a canned cocktail.  “Canned cocktails really call for an environment where the portability factor is more crucial, like ballparks or concert venues,” said Ryan Ayotte, the 25-year-old founder behind the brand, “so when we got feedback from restaurants and bars saying they’d order Ohza immediately if it was in a keg – we did it.”

Ohza’s goal with draft is to increase serving speed, reduce waste, and provide an opportunity for unique menu specials and “bottomless brunch” options. Plus, with a single sixth barrel-sized keg serving up 110 flutes worth of mimosas, Ohza is far more profitable than mixing them behind the bar. The kegs use standard American D couplers, allowing bars to plug directly into standard beer tap systems. Kegs are available starting February 24th, 2020 in MA, RI, CT, ME, NH, and VT. To order, contact Ohza at info@ohzamimosas.com.

Ohza Mimosa (5% ABV) Mimosas are a great way to start your Sunday morning brunch, but sometimes you can’t finish that 750ml bottle of sparkling wine before it goes flat. A can of Ohza Mimosa is a perfect way for two people to share a glass each and celebrate. We were definitely surprised by both the balance between the wine and the orange juice, plus the relatively light sweetness of what is typically pretty heavy on the fructose. A first taste is very wine forward with a dry edge, and the juice just bringing a hint of sweetness. After the second sip, it becomes apparent that this is the perfect ratio to keep things elegant and perfect for pairing with a classic French breakfast. You could easily have two glasses and not feel as though you’d just imbibed boozy orange soda. All in all, these are great to bring to a party, or keep in your fridge for that last celebratory morning before Monday arrives. GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Ohza Mimosas

GSN’s One For the Road: Spain’s Great Match at Mercado Little Spain

I first tasted sherry in my 20s. Always game to expand my tastes and food technique, I bought a bottle of Lustau Fino.  I was living in Syracuse, N.Y., at the time, where a rich home life is a key to good living. The first sip was at my kitchen table.

My previous sherry exposure had been one part Mark Bittman and three parts Frasier Crane asking, “Sherry, Niles?” So, what was I expecting? Something dry and complex that would make my pork chops taste better? Something sophisticated for erudite cocktail hour?

I was a bit surprised then, at the strange taste it had. Had it been on the shelf too long? It didn’t quite seem spoiled. But it wasn’t entirely pleasant, either. Over a few sessions I got used to the flavor. But I’m not sure I understood why Niles and Frasier would drink this all the time.

On October 1, 2019, when I arrived at “Spain’s Great Match,” an event on Spanish wine, I was expecting to see riojas and tempranillos. I was not expecting sherry. Is sherry from Spain, I thought? Pause. Is all sherry from Spain? Naive questions both, and the answers are both yes. Sherry is grown and aged in the Jerez region of Andalusia, on the Atlantic coast of Spain and near the southern tip of continental Europe. Like port from Oporto, it’s a savage anglicization which produces sherry from Xérès and Jerez.

“Spain’s Great Match” is an annual event sponsored by the Trade Commission for Spain in New York, to promote Spanish producers and distributors of wine. The host Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, closed to the public on the day of the event, is a pristine, bustling venue under the High Line, showing off a coordinated range of Spanish food and drink offerings. It’s “a Spanish Eataly,” according to The New York Times, which is accurate, though the airiness and sprawling windows give it a feeling distinctly more Hudson Yards than Eataly’s Fifth Avenue digs. It’s a cute place to have a meal or visit for the afternoon, and I look forward to heading back sometime, particularly to Pan con Tomate, a vendor of the namesake tapa of garlicky fresh tomato sauce on toast.

Many of the guests were Spanish, and in the food and wine industry. I sat next to bartenders, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and distributors, and mingled with winemakers. More than one dude sported the look: jacket and slacks, leather slippers, pocket squares, wide-open shirts, and bushy eyebrows.

A Jerez-Xérès-Sherry “seminar” involved several tastings and a lecture presented by none other than the director of the denominación de origen. It was a real treat learning from someone so knowledgeable of sherry and passionate about sharing it with the world. I discovered that sherry’s unique character comes from flor, a yeast layer which forms from the Andalusian air and sits on the surface of the wine. Winemakers promote its development by targeting a certain alcohol percentage in the young fortified wine. By protecting the wine from excessive oxidation, flor facilitates a process called biological aging, which characterizes the fino and Manzanilla styles, sherries which are extracted early enough to avoid oxidative aging.

Of course the strange flavor I tasted in that first fino – that was flor.

The eight tastings showed the incredible range of sherry. A clean fino expressed the yeast, the palomino grape, and white and dusty soil called albariza. A Pedro Ximenez impressed sweet tea and prunes. A third, a blend, was unlike either the fino or PX: it was spicy, jammy, and sweet. One favorite was Fino La Barajuela 2016 from Luis Perez, boasting flavor of poached pear and apple and aroma of rich, mature dough. Another was Amontillado Cuatro Palmas from González Byass, offering pleasant yeast notes, a medicinal bitterness, and aromas of almond, cherry, and strawberry.

Though regulated, sherry is always made from one of three grape varietals moscatel, Pedro Ximenez, and most commonly palomino, producers on trend will emphasize the region’s diversity, particularly differences in slope, soil, and the races of yeast which predominate. Others bottle their sherries en rama, or naturally, filtering them using a large filter which leaves some living yeast cells intact, and not stabilizing them in the bottle.

The experience definitely made me want to drink more sherry! Well done, el señor.

It was time to venture out of Jerez to see what the rest of Spain had to offer. On the tasting-room floor I met someone representing the winery Parés Baltà. It’s a family-operated winery near Barcelona. The two women winemakers make a wide range of wines including a couple of my favorites of the day. The yeasty cava and Amphora roja 2018 were pleasant, and the Hisenda Miret 2017 was delightfully complex.

A distributor representing Rueda was pouring several verdejos, from the white grape, which ranged from very clean to very oaky, including the Nisia Las Suertes Old Vines Verdejo. One representing Ribera offered a range of tempranillos, including Boada Crianza 2016 from Groupo Yllera, Valduero I Cepa 2015 from Bodega Valduera. Another importer boasted a wonderful rioja alta, the Martinez Lacuesta Reserva 2010. Yet another, white and rose Cava coming from its denominación de origen in Catalonia.

The Rias Baixas is a Northern maritime region on the Atlantic, characterized by namesake low-lying estuaries. Owing to the region’s matrilineal history, its wine industry has historically been run by women and consists of majority women winemakers. Most grape growers have only 1–2 acres, a scale that makes growing more like people’s weekend projects than agribusiness. Neighbors cooperate and hold each other accountable. There’s a sense that helping each other improves quality and yields, and uplifts the region. From here I tasted nine samples of albariño, made from a white grape. The wines made easy drinking, with mineral and citric character. Two standouts came from uncommon winemaking technique. An aged wine, the 2012 by Paco & Lola was delightfully soft and round. Another treat was the Sensum Laxas 2017 from Bodegas As Laxas, a traditionally produced sparkling wine which was balanced and full, with toastiness and a pleasant salinity.

My last taste of the day was not a wine at all, but a rum from Sister Isles. In St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, the producer ages rum in a variety of spanish wine casks. A spirits lover at heart, I found these delightful, conveying subtle and not-so-subtle notes of the sherry grapes moscatel and Pedro Ximenez.

I appreciated getting to deeply explore a few of these regions, and the opportunity to connect the grape with the flavor and culture of these places. I find myself choosing Spanish wines as I continue to eat my way across Brooklyn and Manhattan every week. And I’m keeping my eye out for Parés Baltà, aged albariño, and these rums. My sherry interest is piqued. After a long absence I’m excited to return.

Written by GSN’s NYC based correspondent Paul Melnikow

GSN Review: Kim Crawford Wine

The vineyards of Kim Crawford are located in predominantly coastal sites. The grapes benefit from long days, sea breezes and crisp nights. In combination with New Zealand’s long and dry autumn season, the grapes ripen slowly, which allows them to build flavor intensity as well as develop a sophisticated acidity. In the end, it is this unique combination of factors–from regions and soils, to temperatures and growth rates–that give Kim Crawford a balance of fruit and acidity.

It was Marlborough where the founders rented a state of the art winery and purchased vineyards in the Waihopai Valley in 2000. Why Marlborough? – “No other region in the world can match Marlborough, the northeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, which seems to be the best place in the world to grow Sauvignon Blanc grapes.” says George M. Taber, noted American wine critic.

The story of Marlborough starts with location. The region, situated at 41º latitude south on the north end of the South Island, holds the distinction of being one of New Zealand’s sunniest and driest regions. The average daily temperature in summer reaches nearly 24ºC or 75ºF resulting in a high heat summation for the growing season.

During the daytime, strong and warm northwest winds from the mountains prevail, encouraging flower fertility and ripening. In the evenings, the temperature shifts. Clear cool nights from ocean breezes keep acid levels high in the grapes. This diurnal shift is one of the critical components contributing to the intensity of Kim Crawford’s Marlborough wines.

Rosé (13% abv)
Visual: Pink crystal.
Nose: Fruity and crisp, with a dry edge.
Taste: Round and full, slightly bitter and with a touch of sour cream. The fruit starts out somewhat sweet, but within a few seconds it moves into a more acidic and bright tang.
Finish: Medium long.
Overall: A decent Rosé that has a flavor profile that is in the mid-range. Not too floral and not too fruity.
GSN Rating: B

Sauvignon Blanc (13% abv)
Visual: Pale yellow.
Nose: Grapefruit, cut grass and slight woodiness.
Taste: Lovely entry with a soft, tart flavor and a creamy mouthfeel. Not at all sugary, this is akin to a sweet-tart with a refreshing zing and bright expression.
Finish: Medium long.
Overall: A very good SB that will pair well with a meal. Very easy-going and enjoyable.
GSN Rating: A-

Pinot Noir (13% abv)
Visual: Dark purple.
Nose: Oak forward, musky and slightly smokey. It smells rich and chewy.
Taste: A fair amount of body, but even more so, a hefty dose of flavor. This is quite compact, intense and oaky. The grape is balanced well between fruit and barrel, with an old world sensibility.
Finish: Long with a touch of smoke and raisin on the finish.
Overall: A really well done Pinot Noir that stands on its own, but will add a depth when paired with steak au poivre or pork in a brandy sauce. Nicely done, especially at this price point.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Kim Crawford Wines