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Archive for June, 2011

Bordeaux Futures – 2010

It is a little known fact that a relatively small group of wealthy consumers determine how much we pay for wine by gambling on the prices before the wine reaches the bottle. Every spring, retailers flock to the French châteaux to engage in barrel tastings of last year’s harvest to ascertain what wines consumers in their local markets will be most interested in. The négociants note the critical reception, current economic status, and demand from retailers to negotiate pricing with the individual wineries.

The 2009 vintage was excellent and yielded multitudes of classic-quality reds. Reports indicate that the 2010 wines will be giving ’09 a run for its money; however, the two vintages are very different stylistically. Unlike the opulent reds of 2009, the 2010 offerings are balanced and fresh with ripe tannins and bright acidity.

What about the futures? Apparently merchants are finding 2010 to be a hard sell as consumers are gawking at the high prices. Many are buying older vintages at lower prices instead of tying up more of their money on wine that isn’t bottled and won’t be ready to drink for two decades. The fact that the futures of some wineries (Cos, L’Evangile, and Ducru-Beaucaillou) have dropped is making consumers unsure if 2010 is a wise gamble. What if the wine hits the shelf lower than the current futures? It is also interesting to note that the second wines of some châteaux are seeing the most aggressive increases in futures. Either way, the market has been turned loose to the mercy of the consumer. It will be very interesting to see where things end up after the dust settles.

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The Sichel family has been producing affordable Bordeaux since 2002 when it acquired Château D’Argadens. This stunning and deeply-hued Bordeaux is a blend of 57% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc. The nose bursts with black cherry and cassis with a dusting of strawberry. This Bordeaux is clearly blended in a modern, fruit forward style with good structure. Notes of red fruit and earth dominate through a background of tobacco, oak, and vanilla. The wine shows balance with soft tannins and good acidity. The Château D’Argadens 2006 will not rival Premiers Crus from renowned Châteaux; however, it is a very solid wine at a bargain price of around $18.

-89 points

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Dupont X·tend

When engaging in any hobby it is necessary to be equipped with the required accoutrements. Golfers must bring clubs, tennis players must have a racquet, and cigar smokers must have a lighter. While a Bic would get the job done it lacks the elegance and precision that a fine hand rolled cigar deserves. S.T. Dupont of Paris has been perfecting man’s discovery of fire since 1941 through their line of luxury lighters. Bargain shoppers should look elsewhere as Dupont’s most economical model is priced at over $100, and their most expensive sells for $85,000. Nonetheless, buyers accepting of the high price point will be rewarded with a cleverly engineered, precisely manufactured, and stylish showpiece that looks at home in the pocket of even the most formal piqué waistcoat. The Dupont X·tend is no exception.

The X·tend feels like an extension of the hand thanks to the gently contoured body with rounded edges. Depressing the large button on the side simultaneously opens two crescent-shaped doors covering the nozzle, starts the flow of butane, and ignites the fuel with a piezoelectric ignition. The action is smooth and positive. Of course, a tight blade of blue flame is emitted every time the button is pressed. An inconspicuous fuel window in the bottom of the lighter lets the owner see when a refill is required. Lighting even the largest ring gauge cigars is a breeze with the X·tend; the flame is powerful enough for a fast light but has the precision required for touching up the burn on a delicate wrapper leaf. If you appreciate precision instruments and want an elegant lighter look no further than the S.T. Dupont X·tend.

I would like to thank a certain cigar rep for the ridiculously absurd (practically giveaway) discount. 😉

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No, this isn’t another Cuban Montecristo; this is a domestic cigar distributed by Altadis that contains tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru, and Mexico. The No. 3 is a corona with large unsightly veins running through the blotchy wrapper. The bouquet of the unlit tobacco is slightly woody but fairly bland. After lighting, the cigar is bitter and papery from the first draw and shows no signs of improvement throughout the entire 5 1/2 inches. The smoke given off by the Montecristo Platinum is thin, astringent, and unpleasant. Shortly after the half way point the cigar becomes soft and nearly collapses. Almost unsmokable and not recommended.

-72 points

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El Sublimado

It isn’t every day that a long out of production cigar hearkening back from the boom years of the ‘90’s falls into your lap. The Texas Cigar Brothers company of Bedford, Texas recently stumbled upon a long forgotten stock of El Sublimado and El Incomparable cigars in the warehouse of a Honduran cigar factory and is making them available on a limited basis. The El Sublimado brand launched in 1993 and is unique because the tobacco used to make the cigar was cured in rooms with 50 years old Noces d’Or Cognac.

This cigar does not possess an overpowering aroma of cognac; the spirit’s scent on the wrapper is unmistakably present but is well balanced by the natural aroma of tobacco. The prelight aroma is a subtle mix of vanilla, toffee, spice, cedar, and tobacco. Deftly rolled with a beautifully uniform look and feel, it is clear that the El Sublimado was manufactured with care. The Connecticut seed wrapper remains rich in appearance and sill exudes a modest amount of oil.

Unlike the majority of infused cigars, the El Sublimado’s flavors are nuanced and delicate. The flavor of the Cognac is even less pronounced while smoking than it was in the aroma of the unlit wrapper. It remains rich and full of undertones but strikes a refreshing balance with the other flavors one would expect to find in non-infused tobacco. The smoke tastes of nuts, vanilla, and spice with a lingering finish of cedar. The 50 ring gauge robusto burned very evenly with a draw offering modestly firm resistance.

At around $17 per cigar, the El Sublimado is not inexpensive; however, it is very unique and worthy of purchase due to the unusual flavor combination. Lovers of an elegant cigar brimming with vivid flavors and a mellow texture should consider purchasing a package of five while they last. I would like to thank Texas Cigar Brothers for submitting this cigar for review. Additional information on these cigars can be found at http://www.texascigarbrothers.com/.

– 90 points

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