Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.
Teresa Rizzi Brut Prosecco
Prosecco, most people think that it’s just the same as champagne but just from Italy. Until recently I thought so too, but it turns out that it’s a bit more complicated. Prosecco is DOC protected, just like champagne. Champagne can only be called champagne if it comes from the Champagne region in France, but prosecco can only be called prosecco if it comes from a region in the north-east of Italy. So not all Italian sparkling wines are prosecco. That was news to me when I heard it. Where most champagne is made with mostly chardonnay, pinot noir and Meunier grapes, prosecco is made with the glera grape. There are different qualifications for prosecco, as some of the fields are on very steep hillsides and those grapes are better, thus the prosecco is better. For more information on that, I suggest watching this video from Wine folly on YouTube.
Now for Teresa Rizzi Brut. This bottle is a leftover from InterTabac. One of the booths served this prosecco and at the end of the show the exhibitor, a dear friend of mine, gave me a bottle to take home and enjoy it with my wife. And I did some digging for information. The Teresa Rizzi Prosecco Brut is produced by the Della Torre family who has ancient origins, dating back to around 1100 AC. The name derived from the fact that they were owners of a tower (‘torre’ in Italian), which was part of the Milan city walls. Teresa Rizzi was a noblewoman from Verona who lived around and was a descendant of the Della Torre family. She personally started taking care of her family vineyards, which were located in the Veneto region. Besides prosecco, the vineyard also produces a variety of other wines.
The prosecco is a bite pale but has abundant small bubbles. The nose is fruity with herbs and a hint of floral notes. The mouthfeel is dry and a bit sour, with lots of fruit, elegant ripe fruit. The taste is clean but thin. It is fresh and perfect for a hot summer day. A pairing with an elegant mild cigar such as the Fonseca Delicias, Macanudo Hyde Park or CAO Gold is a match made in heaven.
The Calvados and the Angostura bitters change the aroma of the prosecco. Herbal with notes of apple. There are some fruit notes too and some sweet ginger. This cocktail is very fruity, very sweet. The apple from the calvados and orange from the Grand Marnier are definitely in the cocktail, as well as a mild bitter note from the Angostura. The bubbles from the prosecco make it all bind together nicely with a slightly bitter finish. Just like the neat prosecco, this cocktail plays nice with a mild cigar, but it can also handle a medium bodied cigar as long as it’s balanced and smooth. I would not go full bodied as it will overpower the cigar. Maybe a Joya Red for example.
And now for the Forbidden Apple recipe:
1 ounce or 30ml of Calvados
½ ounce or 15ml of Grand Marnier
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
4 ounces or 120ml of Sparkling wine
garnish: Orange twist
add the calvados, grand marnier and Angostura bitters in a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with an orange twist.
The cranberry is the dominant aroma on the nose with a bit of orange and other fruity notes. This cocktail is the sweetest of the three drinks, with the cranberry definitely as the strongest player but lighter than cranberry juice without a sparkling wine. The bubbles make this drink lighter and cleaner. The prosecco makes this a lighter drink and thus perfect for pairing it with a mild cigar. I made a mistake and lit a Padron 1964, I should have gone with a Padron Damaso instead.
And now for the Poinsettia recipe:
½ ounce or 15ml of Orange liqueur
3 ounces or 90ml of cranberry juice
3 ounces or 90ml of Sparkling wine
Garnish: fresh cranberry and rosemary twig
Pour the orange liqueur and the cranberry juice in a chilled champagne flute. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish.