What a difference a couple of days can make. We (and by "we" I mean I) live in New England, and of course they always say that if you don't like the weather in these parts, just wait a few minutes and it will change. Well, it changed this week for sure.
Sunday I got a last minute call to play a round at one of my favorite courses, and it turned out to be a great afternoon. Slightly rushed due to the early sundown and so we ended up skipping two holes, but the 16 we did play were fun. Plus, I ended up playing some of the best golf of my season, so not a bad way to finish things up for 2020.
I have been playing golf off and on (mostly off) all of my life. Usually this would mean one or two times a year, and almost always as part of a tournament where real individual scores were not kept or tracked. I always kind of knew that I would get into golf, but held off for a couple reasons. The first is the time commitment, which can be considerable, I have three kids and wanted to always spend as much time as possible with them, so golf stayed in the background. The second reason is the cost. Everything about golf costs a good bit, and with the same reason as above I simply could never justify a hobby that would suck resources.
So golf waited.
That is until about a year-and-a-half ago, when I finally decided I was tired of playing in one tournament a year, and also using my old Spaldings that I bought off my roommate back in college for $50 just was not cutting it anymore. Now, I didn't go buy some expensive set, I bought a used set, regripped them and had fun. I played, but what I really did was practice. All summer last year, I would go out to the range after work or on the weekends and hit balls. I also watch videos, asked friends for advice and figure out my swing. I also learned the game, which is more strategy and planning than most people realize.
I was excited to start the 2020 season, as I was determined to hit below 80 this year. My season started on February 3rd, which was a beautiful 56* days filled with sunshine. I was in the office and stuck to a computer screen all morning, but the sun was calling, and I found a club that was open. I played a great game by myself and had the best time. The season was on.
Then Covid came along.
Well, long story short, I played a good amount of golf this year - pretty much every week - and kept up the practice routine. I am more confident with my strokes, am able to hit the yardage I want, and more often than not, now, I can send the ball where I want. I'm still a mid-handicapper, have not broken 80 (82 was the best round this year), but I really like playing golf.
Unfortunately, I think it may be a little while before I am on the links again, as the weather in just a couple of days changed the landscape for the near-future...with 14" of snow. BOOM!
Ok, I have had this wine many times, over many vintages. It is a staple on a number of the wine lists that I oversee, and it is well known by the wine drinking community - mainly because the winery has been around for so long and it has a home in a premium wine region - Napa Valley.
So, why am I writing about it. Well, to begin with the wine has what many people are expecting from a Napa Cab Sauv - mainly, dark fruit, big mouth-feel, and a generously rich style and finish. There is an oak component to the wine that is present from the initial nose through to the somewhat long finish. With 14.5% alcohol, this wine is a bit hearty, but all that alcohol also contributes to the mouthfeel and body. The wine is definitely young at this point, but I am not convinced that a lot of these modern cabs will realistically age very well. They are all built for more immediate pleasure - so why not? Drink 'em if you got 'em!
It was not a special night last night, just an average Wednesday night. Although, we did get a sizeable snow storm and most schools and businesses were planning to close for at least part of the day, all well before the snow started to fall. With the wind howling, and knowing there would be a later than norm start to the day, tucking into a bottle of Freemark Abbey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon did not seem like a mistake. In fact, sometimes all you really want is the comfort of a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and this one always fits the bill.
Retail on this is around $60, and it should be easy to find in most markets.
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The saignée method (meaning “bleeding” in French), involves making rosé as a by-product of red wine fermentation, where a portion of the pink juice from the grape must is removed or drained at an early stage, and is then fermented separately to produce rosé.
These wines tend to be a bit darker than regular rosé wines, as the juice can sit on the skins for a few hours or even a few days, increasing the intensity of the color saturation as well as the concentration of flavors and aromas. These are often not wimpy wines, and can be better for late season dishes or fuller-bodied food pairings.
This is different from the other methods of rosé production, such as minimal skin contact, direct or short term pressing and of blending. Of the three, minimal skin contact is the most widely used as it allows for the most control. Grapes are crushed to allow the juice to flow and then sit with skins for a very short period of time - usually no more than 2 days. When the juice is ready it is then run from the tank and skins and allowed to ferment. Easy to control and easy to produce in large volumes. Direct or short-term pressing is similar in that the juice is on the skins, but then pressed rather than racked off the skins. This can also produce higher quality wines, but is more variable and less predictable for color. Often used by smaller wineries that like to emphasize vintage variations.
Then there is the method of blending red and white wine to make rosé, which is not very favored for making higher quality rose. Because finished wines are blended, the harmony of the blend is not very good, plus it could be difficult to verify origination of the wines. This practice is basically not allowed for quality wines in most of Europe. In fact, the only place in France where blending to create a rose is acceptable is in Champagne - mainly due to the fact that they fraction the press runs so diligently, and the fact that almost all of the wines are blends anyway - this can be controlled and done at a very high level. Rosé Champagne can be exquisite.
Saignée is a method that is either considered to be a way to enhance the original wine that it is bled from - by adding concentration through the reduction of liquid volume to the amount of skins in the tank - or a way to get something to drink / sell very close after harvest. By bleeding off 8-10% of your volume on a wine that would otherwise have to wait 1-2 years to age and then sell, you can have a wine to drink very quickly, but more importantly perhaps, to sell very quickly and get some cash. Many wineries now product rosé on a regular basis, where 20 years ago - only a handful really specialized in the category. Thank you Paris Hilton!
ABOUT THE Author
Brian Mitchell runs The New England Wine Academy, and is responsible for the content of this blog. With over 25 years of drinks industry experience, Brian has learned a few things, but everyday he is learning more. This blog helps to bring that knowledge to you.