April 2011

The best of both worlds?

Chocolate & Wine

April 26, 2011 – 10:52AM

Like chocolate? Like wine? It seems you’re in luck.

Some say that chocolate and red wine in their own right are good for you in any case.

Refer the following links ..



Candy is dandy, but chocolate wine really seems to get taste buds in an uproar.

“The reaction has been amazing,” says Don Opici, whose family-run company, Opici Wines in the state of New York, recently introduced Cocoa di Vine. 

Never heard of chocolate wine? Chances are you will. More vintners are amping up the decadence decibels with blends of wine infused with chocolate flavourings.

Sold as dessert wines and particularly popular around choco-centric holidays such as Easter and Valentine’s Day, the wines fit into a larger trend that has seen Americans embracing their penchant for wines that are fruity and sweet, such as moscato, the sweet and zesty white wine that took off last summer.

“It is absolutely fitting into the sweet tooth wine trend, says WR Tish, founder of the wine site

Chocolate wines generally fall into two camps. Some are port-style wines that are dark red and have, if done right, a rich, dark chocolate taste. Examples include Rosenblum Cellars’ Desiree dessert wine. The other style mixes cream into the wine, creating a sort of adult milk shake.

Cocoa di Vine falls into the latter category, although it’s a little different in that it is based on a blend of white wines, including torrontes, moscato and Pedro Ximenez, a sherry grape.

Ten years ago, “I would have laughed at the idea of a chocolate wine,” says Tish. But he’s been taking Cocoa di Vine to tasting events, where it’s proved so popular that, “I’m careful not to bring it out until the end”.

At Rosenblum Cellars, the idea of mixing chocolate and wine goes back about a decade, says winemaker John Kane.

The wine is made with port-style wines, along with chocolate flavourings added with an emulsifying agent.

Desiree always does well at Easter and Valentine’s but during the past couple of years there’s been increased interest year-round, with some bartenders using it to make chocolatinis.

“It’s definitely a crowd pleaser,” says Kane.

In a way, chocolate and wine are natural partners. A lot of wine-lovers say they can pick up notes of chocolate in certain varieties, particularly cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel, says Jerry Burd, wine-maker owner of Black Mesa Winery in Velarde, NM, which sells a chocolate wine under the name Black Beauty.

Still, some people need a little coaxing to accept the concept.

“We have a lot of people that say, ‘I don’t even want to taste a chocolate wine.’ And then they walk out with chocolate wine in their bag,” says Burd.

“We work hard to keep it balanced as far as sweetness and wine and chocolate so it doesn’t overcome your palate with any one of those. It’s not like eating a Hershey bar . . .  or something like that. It’s a nicely flavoured, balanced wine.”


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Anzac spirit is everywhere

Lest we forget

Henry Sapiecha

The rich rewards of a rare gem

April 18, 2011 – 4:17PM

A rare 24.78 carat Fancy Intense Pink diamond that was auctioned last year. Photo: AFP Photo

Although a 10-carat purplish-pink diamond failed to meet its reserve price at an auction last week, experts say the market for the rare gems is still strong.

“Pink diamonds are red hot,” said David Young, president of Wexford Capital Management, a broker of fancy coloured diamonds.

Christie’s had expected the 10.09 carat Fancy Vivid purplish-pink diamond to fetch as much as $US15 million at a recent auction. Four other pink diamonds had sold for more than $US1 million per carat at auction in the past 15 months.

The record for a diamond sold at auction is held by a Vivid Pink five-carat diamond at $US2.1 million per carat in 2009.

Although Christie’s did not explain why the gem missed its reserve, gemologists and dealers say once you reach the realms of $US1 million-plus per carat, buyers becomes particularly scrupulous.

“When you get up to this level of stone – these Rembrandts, these Monets, these one-of-a-kind pieces- they have to be held up to a very high standard if someone’s going to put that much money on the table,” said Stephen Hofer, a New York research gemologist and diamond cutter specialising in coloured diamonds.

Experts agree that prices for coloured diamonds, pinks in particular, are on the rise, noting that a barrier was broken in recent years that thrust pinks previously selling for $US500,000 to $US600,000 a carat into the $US1 million-a-carat realm.

While the 10-plus carat pinks stun with their size, diamonds extracted from the Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia command similar sums with the intensity of their colour.

Global miner Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine is the world’s only consistent supplier of pink diamonds. While smaller, experts said the rare and exquisite Argyle gems are in a class all their own.

At Argyle, pink diamonds making it to the annual tender are literally one in a million. For every one million carats of rough diamonds produced from the mine, only one polished carat is offered for sale in the tender. In terms of global diamond production, pinks make up only 0.03 percent.

Each spring Rio Tinto displays its finest 40-55 diamonds weighing 0.50 carat or more and ranging in colour from light pink to red, and even violet, at private viewings in exclusive hotels in cities like New York, Paris, and Hong Kong.

The location of the private viewings is kept secret until the day they are shown. Once these rare stones have made their way around the world, sealed bids from diamond connoisseurs and collectors are tallied and the winners notified.

Last November London jewellery dealer Laurence Graff paid $US46 million for a 24.78-carat pink diamond at a sale in Geneva, the highest total price for a gem at auction. He renamed it the “Graff Pink.”

“The thing about the Graff diamond is that it’s a piece of art. There is not another one like that anywhere,” said Gary Roskin, gemologist and founder of The Roskin Gem News Report.



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Received & published by Henry Sapiecha