Cottonwood Agency

Importers of Estate Wines & Unique Spirits
20 May 2018

Amazing White Rioja Wines

  • Posted by :
  • Category: Not Assigned

Amazing White Rioja Wines

The Rioja region has been a wine making region for thousands of years but the modern style we know as Rioja today came about with French influence–and perhaps directly from Bordeaux. The Rioja region is located along the Camino de Santiago which is an ancient religious path leading to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. The first pilgrimages date back to the 9th and 10th centuries and the pathways run from France into northern Spain. One of these routes runs directly from Bordeaux. It’s been theorized that the tradition of aging wine in oak barrels was carried by the connection between the city of Haro in Rioja and Bordeaux in France (and perhaps the French oak forests in Limosin). There is, in fact, some evidence of this. As far back as 1780, a Rioja winemaker, named   Manuel Quintano, aged his wine in French oak. However, the French oak was expensive, and around the mid 1800’s the Spanish resourcefully started to import American oak and cooper the barrels themselves. By the mid 1800’s, Rioja wine was booming. With the vine diseases of odium and phylloxera devastating the vineyards of France, French merchants traveled to the region to source an alternative. Many of these exporters stayed in Rioja and started their own bodegas (wineries) until 1901 when phylloxera finally came into the region and destroyed 70% of the vineyard area. The loss of the vineyards to phylloxera, then World War I, and then the Spanish Civil War set Spain and Rioja into destitution. Vineyards were ripped out and replaced with wheat to fight starvation. Slowly the remaining steadfast producers continued to make outstanding aged wines and, by the 1980’s, investors began to reinvigorate the region.
02 Apr 2018

What Wines To Pair With Chocolate?

  • Posted by :
  • Category: Not Assigned
Wine and chocolate have a lot of similarities to each other. For one, they’re both considered aphrodisiacs and they both contain flavanols (antioxidants). Despite these striking similarities, it’s somewhat challenging to pair wine and chocolate together.

Chocolate and Wine?

For example, if you taste a delicious glass of dry red wine alongside a hunk of dark chocolate, the wine will start to taste bitter and sour. The taste imbalance is coming from the heightened levels of flavanols (different types of tannin) found in both chocolate and wine that end up clashing against each other on your tongue. Fortunately, there several wines that make great pairings with chocolate and they are amazing! Here are many wine and chocolate pairings–along with why they work–so you can experiment and create your own.

Milk Chocolate

A good milk chocolate is usually about half chocolate and half cream–like those amazing ganache chocolate truffles dusted in cocoa powder. The extra fat from the cream makes milk chocolate one of the easiest “true” chocolates to pair with wine.

Recommended Wines with Milk Chocolate:

  • Brachetto d’Acqui: A sweet sparkling red wine from Piedmont, Italy. It is also an excellent pair with chocolate mousse!
  • Late-Harvest Red Wines: Port style wines including late-harvest Syrah, Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.
  • Recioto della Valpolicella: A very rare sweet red wine from the same region that produces Amarone in Italy.
  • Ruby Port: The original Port from Portugal makes for a more spiced and berry driven pairing with milk chocolate
  • Banyuls or Maury: The French “Port” has funkier earthier notes and for this reason will do marvelously well with chocolate truffles.
  • Rutherglen Muscat: This elixir is perhaps the sweetest of the sweet wines in the world and it comes from Victoria, Australia.
  • Lambrusco di Sorbara: The lightest of the Lambruscos, a sparkling red wine, with delicate flavors of peach and strawberry.

Dark Chocolate

The polyphenols in dark chocolate mirror those in wine and give both a somewhat bitter taste. It’s also the part of the chocolate that gives you all the health benefits! The bitterness in dark chocolate is what we’ll want to balance out with a properly selected wine pairing.

Recommended Wines with Dark Chocolate:

  • Vin Santo del Chianti: or Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice has rich, sweet flavors of cherries, cinnamon, and a fine nuttiness.
  • Port-style Red Wines: There are several single-varietal Port-style wines (coming from outside of Portugal) that have ample intensity to balance dark chocolate, including Zinfandel (with cayenne chocolate), Malbec (with ginger chocolate) and Petite Sirah (with coffee chocolate).
  • Port: The original Port from Portugal often has touches of cinnamon spice to the taste profile and pairs marvelously with chocolates with high cacao percentages.
  • Pedro Ximinez: The region of Montilla-Moriles in Spain makes this inky brown-black colored wine (PX or Pedro Ximinez) designed to be enjoyed in exceptionally small sips. The wine adds nutty and raisinated flavors to dark chocolate and even goes well with espresso.
  • Chinato: This is an aromatized wine (aka vermouth) from Piedmont, with subtle notes of cherry dusted in exotic spices. This one is a sipper (or better yet, in a Boulevardier cocktail).

Pairing Dark Chocolate With Dry Red Wines

The idea of a beautiful glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice piece of dark chocolate sounds marvelous, but when you put the two components together in your mouth it usually makes the wine taste gross. There are a few exceptions to this:
  • Red wines with some residual sugar (RS) can usually do great alongside a darker chocolate. Many value red wines display a profile with anywhere from ~10–60 grams per liter of RS. Look into value brands of Shiraz (like Jam Jar), Malbec, Red Blends (think Ménage à Trios) and Zinfandel.
  • When you have dark chocolate within a dessert, such as cake or cheesecake, it’s possible to have enough fat and starch in the dessert to counteract the bitterness in both chocolate and wine.


White Chocolate

White chocolate isn’t technically a “true” chocolate because it doesn’t contain cacao (the brown part with all the flavanols), but it ends up being one of the few chocolate-like sweets that will match with dry red wine! Woohoo!

Recommended Wines with White Chocolate:

  • Pinot Noir: A shockingly good pairing, especially for chocolate and wine pairing disbelievers. The white chocolate acts as the fat that delivers sweet flavors of red cherries, strawberries, and raspberries found in the Pinot Noir. If you’re looking for a great alternative, check out Schiava.
  • Beaujolais: Another light-bodied red wine similar to Pinot Noir. The grape variety Gamay has a range of flavors depending on what Beaujolais Cru it’s from. For example, Saint-Amour delivers more red fruit and flower flavors whereas Morgon generally offers more black currant and blueberry flavors.
  • Moscato d’Asti: Since white chocolate is delicate enough to match with white wines, a Muscat Blanc or Moscato d’Asti delivers flavors of peaches and cream with floral notes of roses. Sparkling wines make the pairing have extra creaminess.
  • Brachetto d’Acqui: Another great pairing with white chocolate, delivering creamy raspberry notes with subtle notes of peonies.
  • Ice Wine: Depending on the varieties used to make the ice wine (usually Riesling and Vidal Blanc), you’ll discover notes of pineapple, lemon meringue, and creamy candied oranges.
  • Rosé Port: This is the newest style of Port and offers rich flavors of sweet strawberries and currant. The minerality in this Port carries through, making it a sophisticated sweet match.
  By Madeline Puckette  Certified Sommelier and NY Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine
05 Mar 2018

Digestif or Digestivo

  • Posted by :
  • Category: Not Assigned
Digestif or Digestivo A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, to aid digestion. When served after a coffee course, it may be called pousse-café. Digestifs are usually taken straight. Common kinds of digestif include: Brandy (Cognac, Armagnac, alembic-made) Eaux de vie (fruit brandies, Schnapps, Calvados) Pomace brandy (grappa) Fortified wines (sweet sherry (usually cream sherry), vermouth, port, and madeira) Liqueurs bitter or sweet (Drambuie, Amari (such as fernet), herbal liqueur, Chartreuse, Grand Marnier, Jägermeister, Irish Mist, Kahlúa, limoncello, Herbs de Majorca, Beirão, Unicum, Underberg, Fernet-Branca, Mirto, Malort) Distilled liquors (ouzo, tequila, whisky or akvavit) Liquor cocktails (Black Russian, Rusty Nail, etc.) In certain areas, it is not uncommon for a digestif to be taken before a main course. One example is le trou Normand, a glass of Calvados taken before the main course of a meal. Bitter digestifs typically contain carminative herbs, which are thought to aid digestion. In many countries, people drink alcoholic beverages at lunch and dinner. Studies have found that when food is eaten before drinking alcohol, alcohol absorption is reduced and the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the blood is increased. The mechanism for the faster alcohol elimination appears to be unrelated to the type of food. The likely mechanism is food-induced increases in alcohol-metabolizing enzymes and liver blood flow. Please Drink Responsibly
18 Apr 2017

What the heck is “Mezcal?”

  • Posted by :
  • Category: Not Assigned

What the heck is “Mezcal?”

Remember that REAL tequila is made from BLUE agave and only in very specific regions? Well, when those guidelines are not followed, what you have is Mezcal (Mess-Call). Made from the more common Maguey plant (a cousin to the blue agave), Mezcal has a smoky and much heavier taste to it. Almost like a Scotch. “The way you drink your Tequila and Mezcal matters. Drinking Tequila and Mezcal neat tends to be the preferred way for consumers looking for a healthier choice,” counsels Bertha Gonzalez-Nieves, co-founder and CEO of Casa Dragones and Maestra Tequilera.

OK…so we’re all curious about The Worm!

Simply put, the worm is a gimmick. It started in the 40’s to add a “hand crafted authenticity” appeal to sell cheap mezcal to tourists. It’s important that you know that real tequila NEVER (EVER) has a worm in it. When you see a worm at the bottom, THAT IS NOT TEQUILA, and it’s likely not even very good by Mezcal standards. If you just can’t resist the allure of consuming a fermented and preserved booze-worm, keep in mind that you will very presently be on-your-ass-drunk and likely vomiting. I don’t know the chemistry behind it, but that little worm is not ment for consumption. Try Bosscal Mezcal Joven
14 Apr 2017

Understanding the Types of Tequila

  • Posted by :
  • Category: Not Assigned

What is the difference between regular Tequila and Premium Tequila?

Most premium tequilas are made from 100% blue agave (they will state this on the label), resulting in a spirit with complex aromatics and flavours. Regular tequilas contain a minimum of 51% blue agave and are blended with neutral grain spirit.
Tequila is a strong liquor that is made from a type of cactus native to Mexico called agave (Say it with me: Ah-GAH-Vey), particularly, the BLUE AGAVE plant. Other similar liquors are made from other types of agave, but REAL tequila is ONLY made from BLUE Agave. Types of TequilaRegion also determines authenticity. Much like Champagne, in order for Tequila to really earn its name, it MUST be made from plants that come from a specific region of Mexico where the Agave plant grows natively (the city of Tequila, and a few other specific areas). We can trace the earliest roots (no pun intended) of distilling agave to make booze all the way back to the ancient Aztec people. Their drink, Pulque (POOL-kay), is among the earliest known ancestors to tequila. When the Spaniards came, they adopted the drink and began utilizing some of their own European techniques for distilling. This slowly evolved into what is modern-day tequila. Other liquors, like Vodka, have had a history of (sometimes heated) debate over their origins, but there is no question; Tequila is Mexican.

Tequila Blanco (AKA Silver, White or Planta)

This clear tequila is not aged before storing, and will have the simplest flavour. This is a popular type for mixing since it will “disappear” most and not overwhelm the flavour of the drink. Common at the high, middle, and low-end, beginner shot-shooters (is that a thing?) will like this for its smoothness. Premium Tequila have stronger notes and are smoother on the profile.

Tequila Reposado

Tequila Reposado is aged in Oak for min 2, and up to 12 months before storing or distribution. Among the more popular types of tequila, this medium-amber colored spirit will have a light, but complex flavour, making it the ideal “All Purpose” tequila. You can shoot it, you can sip it, or you can mix it.

Tequila Oro (Gold)

This light amber colored tequila, also called “Joven,” is a mixture of Tequila Plata and Reposado. It’s mostly found in the low to middle-end categories. It’s also usually the strongest, as far as alcohol contents goes and the harshest, as far as flavour goes. Poor quality Gold is usually coloured artificially.

Tequila Añejo

Pronounced “On-YAY-ho,” this is the most complex-flavoured type of tequila. It’s aged for at least a minimum of a year (Extra Añejo is aged 3+ years) in a small oak barrel, giving it a robust, smoky flavour and bright floral undertones (try not to sound too pretentious when repeating that to friends). This is the Tequila for Cognac fans (a sipping tequila.) You can apply most of the same rules to Tequila that you would to Whiskey or Scotch. If drinking something good, an aficionado will drink 3-5oz. out of a snifter (a low-ball glass also works) served at room temperature, or on the rocks. That’s it. There’s no need to shake the glass or sniff it, the aromas will become more prevalent as you are drinking. Remember, the good stuff is to be enjoyed, not pounded. If the flavour is too intense for you, salt about an inch of your glass (don’t salt the whole thing) and have a slice of lime (preferably key lime) on hand as a quick chaser. A good tequila should have a warm kick to it, and it should start in your chest (don’t ask me how the timing works, it just does.) Premium Tequila should not be served with salt or Lemon/Lime. When taking a shot, always remember to raise your glass before drinking if you are with company. It’s not required that a full, heavy hearted toast be delivered upon every shot, but it’s generally considered a courtesy to give your fine drink and even finer company the nod. If everyone is taking a shot (this is where the fun begins!), then a good customary toast is, in unison, “Parriba!” (everyone raises their drinks) “Pabajo!” (everyone touches the bottom of their shot-glass to the table) “Pal Centro!” (drinks meet in the center) “Y Pa Dentro!” have fun..Enjoy Responsibly….  
10 Jan 2017

Italian Reds?

  • Posted by :
  • Category: Not Assigned

Italian Reds?

The best way to make sense of Italian red wines is to simply start tasting them. Italy offers the perfect red wine for every occasion—from pizza on Monday, to roast beef with the in-laws on Sunday, and everything between. Many of Italy’s best red wines are labeled with the name of the wine appellation, often in combination with the grape variety. If you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed while browsing an Italian wine section, knowing just a few key wine names will help keep your shopping trip focused and ensure that you have the perfect wine to drink at a moment’s notice.
Three Italian Red Wines to buy for special occasions Barolo Piedmont’s Barolo is the undoubtedly the king of Italian red wines. Made from Nebbiolo, the wines of this small appellation in Italy’s northwest are among the most s in the world. Whether it is saved for next year, five years, ten or twenty years, this is one Italian red that showcases the benefits of aging wine. We suggest Demarie or Colle Manora Barbaresco Also a Piedmontese wine made with Nebbiolo, Barbaresco is the queen to Barolo’s king. Renowned for finesse and perfume, the wines of Barbaresco are among Italy’s best. We suggest Demarie Brunello Brunello di Montalcino is the king of wines made with Sangiovese. This Tuscan red wine gets its name from the local name for Sangiovese (Brunello) and Montalcino, a small medieval hill town overlooking the Tuscan countryside. These are complex wines with incredible aging potential. We suggest Le Potazzine Amarone Amarone is a powerful and concentrated dry red wine made with dried grapes in Italy’s Veneto region. Made from native Italian grapes, Amarone is a wine that dazzles and impresses. We suggest La Giaretta

Full-Bodied Italian Reds

“A perfect balance of ripe tannins, crisp acidity and rich body make these Italian reds ideal,” says LCBO wine expert Antonio Ruscetta, LCBO product consultant, Maple. “These wines are full-bodied but not too bold, which makes them especially food friendly. Great with red meat, lamb, duck, pasta and homemade tomato sauce — these are the wines you open on the weekend or bring to a dinner party.”