French Wine Triptych

French Wine Triptych

Aside from cigars, I also love to enjoy a fine wine. Almost weekly, I participate in various tastings and have also visited some of the most famous wine regions, including Bordeaux and Alsace. If I were to write about all those tastings, the blog would become a wine blog. However, from time to time I find it refreshing to share my thoughts about different wines, especially when they are as good as in this case.

Last week-end, with a couple of friends, we decided to open a bottle that I got for my birthday, it was a rather reputed Burgundy. We needed to find some more bottles to match that one and the idea of a triptych was born. We selected a fine Bordeaux and a Côte Rotie, a growth that I am less familiar with from Rhône. Here's how the wines fared.

Côte Rotie Brune et Blonde de Guigal

I didn't know what to expect here. The color was surprisingly light for a 96% syrah. The nose was rather inexpressive. The wine, however, tasted good with very soft tannins and flavors of black fruits (blackberry) and vanilla. I was disappointed with the finish as it was short and brought a strong acidity. One hour in the decanter managed to tackle this issue though. I would agree with the 88 rating by Robert Parker on this one.
Price: $40-70.

Bouchard Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus 2001

Bouchard is the only owner of this 4-hectares parcel in the Beaune region. The quality of this wine is not exactly consistant and may significantly change depending on the vintage. Luckily, the 2001 lived up to our expectations. It was everything you look for in a good Burgundy/pinot noir, a ruby color, an elegant and rich nose with distinct cedary and nutty notes and a taste explosion on the palate with fresh flavors of red fruits and pleasant tannins.
Price: approximately 60 €. Not sure if this can be easily found in the United States. You can try searching here.

Château Sociando-Mallet 2004

We left this one for the end and we were right. Sociando-Mallet is very often at the same level as some Classified Growths at half the price and one of my long-time favorites. This is absolutely true for 2004, quite a difficult year for Bordeaux. Very structured and ripe, it's dark as ink and has a wonderful nose of wild cherry. It is vigourous yet not aggressive, just what you expect from a grand Bordeaux. Great value.
Price: ~$55.

Dual Review: Garo Aniversario X

Garo Aniversario X

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Belicoso
Size : 6.25 x 54
Wrapper : Corojo
Filler : Peru, Nicaragua
Binder : Indonesia
Hand-Made
Price : ~$8 each
More info about purchasing Garo cigars...

Today we have a dual review of a Garo Aniversario X Belicoso, done by Stephen and Jason. Thanks to Garo Cigars for providing us with a sampler!

Stephen: Garo's new Aniversario X cigars offer four Cubanesque shapes (Salomon, "A", Belicoso and Toro Gordo). Aniversario X is listed as a full bodied cigar. I have had these resting in my humidor about a month. I smoked two for this review.

Jason: Garo Habano is a small boutique cigar company headquartered in California that started in 1996. The Anniversario X is one of the company's more expensive lines. There aren't many reviews out there on this cigar so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Read the full review of Dual Review: Garo Aniversario X...

H.Upmann Vintage Cameroon Toro

H.Upmann Vintage Cameroon Toro

Origin : Dominican RepublicH. Upmann
Format : Toro
Size : 6.0″ x 54
Wrapper : Cameroon
Filler : Dominican, Nicaraguan and Peruvian
Binder : Nicaraguan
Hand-Made
Price : $6 each
More info about purchasing H. Upmann Cameroon cigars...

H. Upmann is a cigar brand with a rich Cuban heritage. Like most American cigar smokers, I have very little experience with that storied version of the brand. Instead the H. Upmann I know best is made in the Dominican Republic. Back when I was just a fledgling cigar smoker, Upmann’s were listed among my favorites. I thought of them as a very reasonably priced, excellent quality, medium to mild smoke. As I gained more experience and my palate developed, I quickly lost my taste for them. That is except for one particular line. Even after I moved on from H. Upmann to other more dynamic and robust smokes, I still continued to enjoy the H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon. At that point in my cigar smoking career I had developed a fondness for the Cameroon wrapper and the Upmann was one I continued to enjoy along with the Torano 1916 and others. Eventually I moved on from my Cameroon kick and thus stopped smoking even this line of Upmann’s. A recent conversation about Cameroon cigars brought back memories of this particular cigar and I decided I wanted to revisit it again as it has been a while since I have enjoyed one of the Vintage Cameroons.

Read the full review of H.Upmann Vintage Cameroon Toro...

Vegas Robaina Maestro (Spain Regional Edition)

Vegas Robaina Maestro (Spain Regional Edition)

Origin : CubaVegas Robaina
Format : Maestro
Size : 165 x 20 mm
Ring : 50
Release : 2007
Hand-Made
Price : ~$13 each
More info about purchasing Vegas Robaina cigars...

Vegas Robaina Maestros is the first regional edition for Spain, released in 2007 and distributed by Altadis SA. It is slightly longer than your regular robusto, at 5.6 x 50. This cigar was my main target when I visited the cigar shops in Madrid. I found it without much trouble at approximately $13 each. I smoked one straight away but it was almost plugged. The remaining 2 cigars for this review have been resting 2 weeks in the humidor.

Read the full review of Vegas Robaina Maestro (Spain Regional Edition)...

Seattle’s parks now smoke-free… and tobacco-free

Seattle's parks now smoke-free... and tobacco-free

Okay, this one is so ridiculous that I just couldn't miss it. According to a Reason.com article, Seattle Parks superintendent T. Gallagher imposed a complete tobacco ban on all city's parks. Yes, this even includes smokeless tobacco...

In other words, Gallagher is intent on using his power as parks superintendent not only to protect park patrons from the occasional whiff of someone else's cigarette smoke but to protect them from the ill effects of their own unhealthy habits. Hence the inclusion of smokeless tobacco, which poses no conceivable threat to passers-by (and also is much less hazardous to consumers than cigarettes). For those worried about getting hit by tobacco juice spray: Consumption of oral snuff such as Skoal Bandits or Camel Snus does not require any spitting. Such discreet, smokeless consumption of tobacco does not even trigger the "concerns that smokers set a poor example for children" mentioned by the Seattle Times. Yet under Gallagher's new policy, any park visitor caught with such contraband will be summarily ejected, the better to serve his department's "fundamental mission to support the health and well-being of Seattle residents."

Cigar of the Week: La Riqueza

Full-flavored and medium-bodied, La Riqueza, released in 2008, was a considerable change from what we've become used to when it comes to Pete Johnson's babies. With a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper, this is no longer a Nicaraguan puro, and due to the nature of this leaf, it lost some of the visual appeal. However, the construction and the flavor more than make up for it.

La Riqueza #3

  • Lee said that La Riqueza #3 was one of the most full-flavored cigars that he ever tried.
  • Tom at Keepers of the Flame enjoyed his cigar despite a slight bitterness at the end and thinks that the ageing will get rid of this weak point.
  • Tony Casas, on the other hand, simply says that this is one of his best cigars hands down.

Where to get it?

La Riqueza #3, a corona gorda, can be found online for anywhere between $7 and $9. Compare the prices here.

Esencia Belicoso

Esencia Belicoso

Origin : NicaraguaEsencia Cigars
Format : Belicoso
Size : 5 1/2 x 52
Wrapper : Nicaragua
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : $187.99 for a box of 21
More info about purchasing Esencia cigars...

The Esencia cigars were introduced in 2008 by Brothers of the Leaf, LLC. The cigars are Nicaraguan puros which come in five vitolas: a 5.63 X 46 Corona Gorda; 5.13 X 42 Petit Corona; 4.88 X 50 Robusto; 7 X 47 Churchill, and today’s featured cigar a 5.5 X 52 Belicoso. The Brothers of the Leaf also manufacture the Palio cutter.

Read the full review of Esencia Belicoso...

Tatuaje J21 Reserva

Tatuaje J21 Reserva

TatuajeOrigin : Miami, FL
Format : Robusto
Size : 5 x 50
Wrapper : Nicaragua
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : ~$10-11 each
More info about purchasing Tatuaje J21 Reserva cigars...

Please welcome Joe K, our new reviewer. Here is a short intro that he wrote:

Joe K calls the upper Midwest home, currently residing in Wisconsin with his wife. Although he smoked cigars on and off throughout the past 8 years or so, it was not until this past year that he grew a certain affinity for them. While traveling, he mentioned to a business associate that he was looking for some cigars for his mates in light of his upcoming nuptials. That business associate generously gave him a La Riqueza #3. Finding it and the following two so enjoyable, Joe went out and bought a box of the La Riqueza #3's the very next day. Most enjoyable for him are Medium to Full bodied smokes that offer a lot of complexity and flavor changes.

Today, he reviews a Tatuaje J21 Reserva. Enjoy!

If I can say one thing about Tatuaje, it is that they are very confident in their product. Instead of relying on overly flashy bands and packaging, the cigars are allowed to do their own talking and the J21 does not stray. The standard solid brown background, adorned with the Tatuaje signature and Fleur de Lys, is very unassuming. The only indication that this is a unique smoke is the addition of a second “Reserva” band, which adds some definition but is still remarkably simple.

Having received this stick from a fellow BOTL who somehow managed to let this one sit for a while, I was not surprised to notice the buildup of plume on this cigar. A very nice sheen presented itself on the surface of the wrapper due to the delicious oils coming forward. A prominent smell of pepper came through when testing the foot.

Read the full review of Tatuaje J21 Reserva...

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