After winning a gold medal in hockey on ice, girls from Team Canada smoke cigars and drink bubbly in the empty (!) arena. What a great way to celebrate, right? But nowadays there's no smoke without some idiots complaining.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.