Just the Bottle

One woman's adventure in beer, wine, spirits and food.

Bodacious Bohigas

When I visited Spain in October last year with one of the goals being to drink all the cava I was lucky enough to visit Bohigas.  Maria Casanovas-Giró was gracious enough to give us a personal tour with a history of the estate and family.  The estate has been around since the 13th century with the family managing the vineyards for eight centruies and has been a witness to history in Spain.

Can Macià is composed of 35 hectares in a Mediterranean-continental-type of climate.  The family has generally planted the traditional cava varietals - Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada, but is open to experimenting with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  There is a second property area that is newer composed of 45 hecatares.

We visited the underground cellar.  It’s sort of breath taking to view these underground cellars.

Look at that creepy doll.  The house was filled with unusual items sort of like a Spanish version of Ripley’s.  I like anyone born in the early ’80s is terrified by dolls.  It all stems from Chucky.

At the end of our tour, we sat down and enjoyed a multicourse meal paired with different cavas from Bohigas.

Besides bringing home a bottle of Noa (one of my favorites), I have found Bohigas carried at shops in DC area like DCanter and at Mocking Bird Hill. 

If you see a bottle of Bohigas in a shop or on a menu, order it as it won’t disappoint.

It’s Wine Time

ეს ღვინო დრო! (It’s wine time!)

I am excited to write that I will be attending the International Wine and Tourism Conference in Tbilisi, Georgia!

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Besides the conference, I will be joining some other cool wine people touring various wineries in Georgia.  My goal of the trip is again to consume all the wine in Georgia.  Secondary goal, learn more about orange wines.

Before Georgia, I’ll be in Instanbul!  I have already gotten some great recommendations from Twitter friends and other people.  Of course one of the recommendations included a wine bar.  Don’t judge.

Stay tuned here for moar about my adventures and follow my Twitter @justthebottle.

Orange you glad I didn’t say banana

My birthday was January 13th and I decided to celebrate all month long.  On New Year’s Eve Man Friend and I went to Professionals in the City New Year’s Party.  I didn’t want to go, but one can’t really say, “Oh, you want to see someone that you were stationed in Texas with and served in Iraq with?  No. I don’t want to even though s/he lives in a different state.” Before the party we went to Red Hen and it was spectacular.  The service was amazing and the dishes were well executed. They also featured orange wine by the glass.

I arranged for Man Friend to take me to Komi for dinner another night and then a play at Studio Theatre.  Komi paced the meal perfectly.  It didn’t feel like two hours and we made the play in plenty of time.  Every dish offered a new set of flavor and texture.  I went with the pairing, which might not have been appreciated by others. However, I do what I want.  Anyways, one pairing was this really interesting Italian beer that had a nice funk.  I mentioned my interest in orange wine and they offered it along with a red so that I could compare.

Two other birthday celebrations included renting the private room at Black Squirrel and a Sunday Funday that involved bottomless brunch at Masa 14.  There was no fee to rent the room at Black Squirrel even though it was a Saturday night in Adams Morgan.  Masa 14 was a solid brunch that should be on one’s DC bucket list.

Back to the orange wine!  I have talked to some who believe that orange wine is a trend that has come and gone.  Others think it’s a current trend.  I am not sure what the average wine drinker will think, but I have found the few I have tried thus far to be very interesting and food friendly.

Orange wine is made up of white wine varietals that have extended skin contact during fermentation.  The color can be incredibly light to a more tawny like color.

Here’s the interesting part that I wonder if it will appear to beer followers…orange wines can be VERY sour and funky.  I tried another that came off as oxidized I expected sherry like flavors that did not appear.

Orange wine more commonly appears in Italy and Eastern Europe like Georgia and Slovenia.

I look forward to experimenting with them more.  Perhaps doing a tasting with some other wine friends?

Festivus Fun and Florida Beers

I was lucky enough to get time off to go home to the South Florida area for Christmas.  Well, lucky to be able to witness the crazy that is my family in person.  With that in mind, let’s list some of the great beers I had and perhaps throw in a great quote or two from my family.

Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale

Cigar City beers are finally appearing in the DC area.  The brewery is located in Tampa, Florida area.  This beer was full of flavor with notes of nutty coffee profile.  However, it was very light which gives you the darker flavors you want for the holidays, but easy to drink.  It was perfect for a Floridian who wants to enjoy the holidays even when it’s 80 degrees on Christmas.

Parental Unit

The male parental unit liked this beer.  The male parental unit also told me when I brought home cookies made from scratch based on my grandma’s recipe that the cookies were dry.  He then ate almost all of the cookies while I was at the beach.

Key West Southernmost Wheat

It’s an interesting take on the witbier style.  I didn’t get the cleaning product flavor that always seems to occur when I drink a wheat style beer.  For real, around mid-palate usually I get this Pinesol character.  Anyways, great citrus notes with a hint of lime and some spice.

Parental Unit

The male parental unit liked it, but this is also not his favorite style.  At some point during the visit a heated discussion emerged of whether my dad should date if my mom were to die.  She ends the debate by stating, “No skanks.”

The Eleven Brown Ale

Here’s another perfect beer for a Floridian who wants malty, toffee flavors in a lighter format.  I loved the flavor and slight hoppy notes on the finish.

Parental Unit

He dug this one.  We both like more malty flavors.

We visited my grandparents on Christmas day.  They always have something to say about my life, my weight or just about anything.  One of my favorite past anecdotes from my grandfather involves me suggesting he participate in a class in which he would write his autobiography.  He responded very negatively.  I asked why he wouldn’t be interested and he responded, “because I can’t remember all the ladies’ names.” 

Unfortunately, it was a very brief trip home over the holidays.  This made it difficult to see friends and visit breweries like Funky Buddha or Wynwood Brewing Company.  Well that and not having a car unless I borrow my parent’s car.

Champagne Tasting

Bell Wine & Spirits’ annual Grand Champagne tasting is Wednesday, December 11th 5:00pm - 8:00pm. They will be pouring 30+ Champagnes and sparkling wines, with highly rated Krug, Ruinart, Dom Perignon and more!

Tickets are available here for $25.  Is that too much?  Want a discount?  Well, maybe I can help you out.  Use the promo code justthebottle and get your ticket for $10.

If you end up buying any of the wines tasted - not only will they be on sale, but you’ll get your money back from your ticket.

Manel Avinyo, winemaker at Clos Lentiscus, is a very passionate man with strong opinions on wine and life.  But, you must be passionate if you are going to follow biodynamic winemaking practices. The Hedonista wrote up an excellent review of our time with Manel. I on the other hand will simply share a hilarious video recorded by Bucket List Journey of me finding the energy.

Christina loves Cava

I was lucky enough to visit Spain recently. After spending a couple days in Barcelona (pictures and stories to come later), I joined a group outside the city. Our mission was simple - drink all the cava.

One of my favorite wineries on the visit was Mascaró. Like most of the wineries we visited, it is family owned. They are led by the matriarch Ms. Monserrat Mascaró, Co-owner & Oenologist.

We were led on an amazing tour by one of the staff, Maria, who explained that 30% of the business was cava related. About 40% of their cava is consumed in Catalonia. They produce about 100,000 bottles of cava and 300,000-400,000 bottles of brandy a year.

The wines and cavas are grown in Mascaró’s Mas Miquel vineyards.

The facility we toured was considered an urban winery located in the downtown area of Penedès. The location was along a path that linked the city center to the train station.

One of my favorite cavas was Cuvee Antonio Mascaró. It is a Cava Gran Reserva Brut Nature which means no dosage added with an aging time of 30 months or longer. This cava could be enjoyed as an appertif, but paired spectacularly with our lunch. The nose was aromatic with nutty and some minor floral notes. The cava danced in the mouth with fine bubbles and creamy notes. Would you believe it is super affordable as well?

I ended up buying a bottle of the Brandy X.O. Ego. I knew I would be hard pressed to find he something of that quality back home at the same price point. It was incredibly smooth and refined with slight vanilla and toasty notes.

Spain Baby

I am super excited to be traveling with Wine Pleasures as part of the Cava Blogger trip! Wine Pleasures produce an electronic book with the 50 great Cavas each year. Last year’s version is available for download here.

Look for pictures, video and posts about all my fun in Spain during October. I am also going a little early to enjoy Barcelona. Feel free to leave comments on suggestions on what to do, where to eat and drink while in Barcelona.

¡Salud!

Fall means Pumpkin Beer Time

If it’s fall it means it’s time for all the pumpkin beer. Some people hate on pumpkin especially pumpkin beer and fall in general. Many like to make jokes about white girls in yoga pants. My feelings about the hatred of pumpkin and fall can be summed up as -

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To further elaborate - I like pumpkin and I like fall. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. We would wear sweaters and pretend we actually needed them when it was 60 degrees out.

I ended up having some friends over to enjoy pumpkin beer. French Twist DC posted her own tasting notes as well as history of pumpkin beer and Girl Meets Glass shared her pumpkin beer thoughts too.Beerbecue participated virtually with the Haybag as he was busy with 2.0. Bill Jusino also tweeted some of the fun. There may even be a DC Beer post on pumpkin beer. Another friend who is in Annapolis did her own pumpkin beer tasting and posted her thoughts. I also found the Great Pumpkin Beer Review with detailed reviews of several pumpkin beers.

There are still pumpkin beers available for purchase at many retail establishments, but I would start buying anything you like now as well as Oktoberfest and marzen. I have waited until October or November and places are sold out of many of the best.

On to my tasting notes-

Epic & DC Brau’s Fermentation Without Representation Collaboration Beer - I loved this one. I found it more balanced with the right about of spice, but still pumpkin flavor. By that I mean, it wasn’t like drinking pumpkin pie.
Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale - I am not sure if it was me or what, but I got strong buttery flavors. It was overpowering. It came off as sort of caramel popcorn. I have a second bottle to try later.
Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale Gruntled Pumpkin - This was not a crowd favorite. It came off as more gourd and squash like. When I drank it on it’s own, the first taste was clover and gourd smacking me around.
Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale - Here was another example of pumpkin beer being more balanced and not simply pumpkin pie in a bottle. It was slightly hoppy and slightly spicy as maybe corriander on the finish.
Long Trail Imperial Pumpkin - It looked light in the pour, but definitely packed a punch. It was more malty like I normally enjoyed. It had more caramel notes with the pumpkin spice flavors popping through.
Shipyard Pumpkinhead - Our group did not enjoy this one. The spices were overwhelming in a harsh way.
Brasserie McAuslan’s St-Ambroise Citrouille - It was light and had minimal nutmeg notes. It was very smooth, but not that impressive.
Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin - I really enjoyed this beer, but didn’t really consider it a pumpkin beer. It was toasty with great caramel and nutty flavors. I just didn’t get any pumpkin or pumpkin spice flavors.
Flying Dog Brewery, The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale - This was a crowd pleaser. It was a dark color poured, but not very heavy. Plenty of clove notes.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale - This is always another popular pumpkin beer. It’s lighter and more on the pumpkin pie scale with a lot of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg notes.
Matt Brewing Company’s Saranac Pumpkin Ale - This is a middle ground pumpkin beer. It is also lighter with more sweetness in the form of  clove and nutmeg.
Starr Hill Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter - The pumpkin is slightly overpowered by the porter in this beer. It came off as more muted.

In the end, taste is subjective even your own. I find that depending on what I am eating, the weather and even the type of day I had that my taste in beer will change. I may go for a second round of some of these beers especially when it gets a little cooler.