WINE TREND: ROSÉ WINE SALES CONTINUE TO SURGE
Pink wine is on the rise with dry rosé sales continuing to climb in 2015. As of July 2015 reports show that sales for this category have grown by 34% reaching $63 million in the first 52 weeks of the year. The volume has increased as well to roughly double what it was in 2012. More and more stores and restaurants are seeing the interest in rosé go beyond the warm spring and summer seasons to become an all-year-round style of preference. This is good news for rosé lovers everywhere as we can expect the category to continue to grow to offer diverse, quality driven wines across all price points.
ULTIMATE SPIRITS CHALLENGE CHAIRMAN'S TROPHY SPOTLIGHT:
COLD RIVER GIN 97 POINTS $26.99
Small batches, a love of the craft, and the finest ingredients are the quality control checkpoints behind this American made Gin. A distillate made from Maine's Cold River water and Maine potatoes are infused with the secret proprietary blend of 7 botanicals to create a flavorfully layered spirit that is endlessly sipable. They proudly integrate support for local farms and sustainable agriculture when sourcing their raw materials in an effort to promote a farm to glass experience while investing in the community. Their strong commitment to quality from start to finish is evident in the superb flavor of each sip.
Tasting Note: Wonderfully fragrant and complex with bright scents of juniper taking the lead with supported by orange, cardamom, coriander, and fresh herbs. Lush and silky on the palate being decadent while ideally balanced. A new American classic.
UBC PERSONALITY SPOTLIGHT: LEO DEGROFF
It's impossible to imagine Ultimate Beverage Challenge without Leo DeGroff, UBC's fearless back of house manager. His ability to coordinate the myriad samples and back of house staff to seamlessly deliver the many blind flights of wines, spirits and cocktails is masterful. With experience producing large scale and high profile cocktail events around the world he makes the daunting task of executing everything from the bottom up look easy. When asked what he likes best about UBC, he cites “the integrity, honesty, and fairness of the competition, and the ability for each and every product to be tasted the way it should be.” When not at the UBC world headquarters you can find him consulting on the Aspen Food & Wine Festival, coordinating the BAR 5-Day Program, and similar annual events.
ULTIMATE WINE CHALLENGE CHAIRMAN'S TROPHY SPOTLIGHT:
DR. KONSTANTIN FRANK PINOT GRIS 2013 FINGER LAKES 94 Points $19.99
The quality of wines coming from New York State continues to grow significantly every season. Considering that it is a relatively nascent wine-producing region of the world, the scores that these wines earn are impressive to say the least. The iconic Dr. Konstantin Frank wines have been instrumental in elevating the status of New York wine and one of this year's Chairman's Trophy winners, their 2013 Finger Lakes Pinot Gris is a strong example. The terroir is well suited to aromatic white varieties, allowing the Pinot Gris to flourish and express itself elegantly.
Tasting Note: Intriguing steely mineral aromas abound on the lightly pungent nose. On the palate it is fresh and ripe with Anjou pears, varied ripe citrus, and white flowers, all integrated cleanly. A soft and pretty wine.
SPIRITS TREND: GIN & TONICS TAKE EUROPE – NEXT STOP USA?
The craft cocktail movement is under way all across Europe with Gin & Tonic as the centerpiece. “From modest roots, there are people taking that much-loved drink to another level...creating artfully composed drinks with exotic ingredients and extravagant presentation,” says Los Angeles and New York City bar owner Alex Day. Ann Marie Del Bello, beverage manager at Jean Georges ABC Cocina in NYC agrees that, “...the Gin & Tonic craze is the beginning of a cocktail culture that is already hitting Europe.” While the European craze embraces this classic as a blank canvas for experimentation, on this side of the pond we see this beverage as a hallmark of familiarity and simplicity: “a classic that has been imbibed by the masses for years,” as Del Bello puts it. Alex Day, whose bars include Death & Co and The Normandie Club, also recognizes that while Americans embrace craft cocktail experimentation there is backlash when classics get adorned with too many frills and takes a different approach: “At Honeycut in LA, we've made a homemade tonic that veers away from traditional tonic — it's been a hit!” It's these subtly upgraded versions that preserve the simplistic and ultra-refreshing qualities of a Gin & Tonic that USA trendsetters have already started to unroll.
ULTIMATE SPIRITS CHALLENGE 2015: Full results.
ULTIMATE WINE CHALLENGE 2015: Full results.