I get asked this question a lot when the subject of Italian wines comes up. Someone always comes up to me and asks, “So, what’s the deal with Super-Tuscans?”. It’s not as easy to answer this question as you may think. First let’s look at how wines are categorized in Italy and then we’ll see where Super-Tuscans fit in.

Italy adopted the appellation system for wines from France in the 1960’s, about 30 years after France initiated theirs and which all other appellation systems are based on. In France it is called the Appellation d’Origine Controlee or AOC. It is used not only for wines but for cheese, butter and other agricultural products all based on the idea of terroir or place. The origins of the modern French AOC system date back to the early 1400’s when Roquefort cheese was regulated by parliament to protect the name. In essence an AOC is a controlled place-name. In Italy the equivalent is called Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG).

In order for wines to qualify for the DOC(G) designation the producer must grow, or source, the grapes from the designated geographic region, make the wines in the region and follow strict rules regarding grape variety or varieties, yields, production methods, aging requirements which may include the size and type of vessel, and other things. In addition the wines must pass a blind tasting and chemical analysis before being awarded a seal of approval for the neck of the bottle. Some of these DOC(G)’s are very rigorous and demanding for the producer. This is all done to protect the name and reputation of the DOC(G) and give a wine that shows typicity of the place where it is produced (terroir).

An example wine would be Chianti and Chianti Classico, both DOCG’s. For the wine to be called Chianti it must come from the geographic area designated as Chianti, in the heart of Tuscany. This area has been expanded over the years to accommodate increased production and is now very large. Chianti Classico on the other hand is a smaller, better DOCG which is in the historic heart of the Chianti region. It lies in the hills between Florence and Siena. Both wines must contain Sangiovese. Chianti must contain a minimum of 70% Sangiovese and the balance can be made up of traditional and international red grapes and a 10% maximum of white grapes. The wine can be 100% Sangiovese. Chianti Classico must be made from a minimum of 80% Sangiovese. The producer can then round out the wine with traditional and international red grapes. White grapes are no longer allowed in Chianti Classico and the wine can be 100% Sangiovese. Producers must then follow all the other rules pertaining to yields, alcohol levels, aging, etc. These are just 2 of the over 300 DOC(G) wines in Italy today.

So, what if you are a producer in Tuscany who doesn’t want to follow all the rules and regulations of the DOC(G)? Maybe you are a producer in the Chianti zone but want to make a wine using only international grapes like Cabernet and Merlot. That’s perfectly legal but you cannot call your wine Chianti. It does not adhere to the rules of the DOCG. Or, maybe back in the 1960’s and 70’s, you are on the coast of Tuscany, in no-man’s land, and want to produce a Bordeaux blend. That was, and still is, legal but what did you call your wine? There were no DOC or DOCG wines that these would fall under so your wine was just a table wine or Vino da Tavola. This is where the Super-Tuscan’s come in.

Super-Tuscans came about in the 1960’s and 70’s. They were high-priced, high-quality red wines that did not fit into any of the new official categories or DOC(G)’s. The wines were something not seen before in Italy. They were made with international grapes or non-traditional blends and aged in small, new French oak barrels. The bottles had fancy labels with fantasy or proprietary names. Since these wines did not fit into the DOC(G) system they had to be labeled as lowly table wines or Vino da Tavola. This was considered scandalous due to the high prices these wines were fetching. How could a lowly table wine cost more than a classic DOC(G) wine?! The first of the Super-Tuscans was Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia produced in the town of Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast. Tenuta San Guido was established by marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. The wine was first produced in 1948 from Cabernet Sauvignon and intended for the family’s consumption only. In 1968 the machese’s son Nicolò and nephew Piero Antinori convinced him to release it commercially. The first vintage was in 1971. Demand soon skyrocketed and the marchese hired the famous consulting enologist Giacomo Tachis to further refine the wine while production increased. Today the wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Cabernet Franc. It is extremely expensive and in very high demand.

The idea behind Sassicaia was to produce a wine that would rival that of Bordeaux from an area that was relatively unknown but had great potential with Bordeaux grapes. Others followed. Since this was a part of Tuscany not covered by any of the newly formed appellations or DOC(G)’s, the wines were labeled as simple Vino da Tavola. But Sassicaia and the other coastal wines were just the beginning. In the early 1970’s a revolution was about to begin in the Chianti Classico region that would turn the appellation on its’ head and change it forever.

At this point in time Chianti was synonymous with mass-produced, watered down versions of the original. Many producers were dissatisfied with the tired, old rules and regulations of the appellation. Back then white grapes were mandatory not only in Chianti but Chianti Classico. The inclusion of international grapes was forbidden as was making a wine solely from Sangiovese. Some producers took matters into their own hands and started to make the wines they wanted to make. Antinori introduced Tignanello and Solaia and others were not far behind. These were all wines based on Bordeaux varieties with or without the addition of Sangiovese. But it wasn’t all about Bordeaux varieties.

In 1981 Sergio Manetti of the Montevertine estate, in the middle of the Chianti Classico region, was fed up. He felt that not only the mandatory addition of white grapes (white grapes are no longer allowed in Chianti Classico) but the addition of international grapes to make a more broadly appealing wine was doing a disservice to the noble Sangiovese. He was to become the champion of Sangiovese. So much so that in 1981 he produced his last vintage of Chianti Classico vowing to never again include any other grapes with his beloved Sangiovese. He produced the first 100% Sangiovese Super-Tuscan under the name Le Pergole Torte from the Montevertine estate 6 miles south of Radda in Chianti. This wine, like the other Super-Tuscans of the day fell out of the DOCG regulations and was labeled a Vino da Tavola. But Sergio didn’t care. Even after Chianti Classico changed the rules to allow a 100% Sangiovese based wine he refused to join the appellation.

The success of the original Super-Tuscans eventually led to major changes in the Chianti and Chianti Classico DOCG’s. No longer were white grapes permitted in Chianti Classico, international grapes were now allowed in limited quantities and a 100% Sangiovese wine was now permitted. It also led to a new category of wine being approved in 1992, Indicazione Geographica Tipica or IGT. This is a category that is less strict than DOC(G). It is the equivalent of France’s Vin de Pays. It provides the winemaker more choice in terms of grapes and production methods. Sassicaia would eventually be awarded its’ own DOC (Sasscicaia Bolgheri) in 1994 and other DOC’s for Super-Tuscans would follow.

Today the term Super-Tuscan is a bit overused and misunderstood. To some, a Super-Tuscan is any wine produced in Tuscany that is not DOC(G). But, as we have seen, some Super-Tuscans are now DOC wines! Super-Tuscans also used to be very expensive but today not all are. There are some that are quite reasonable.

I think what those original Super-Tuscans did was to shake up the establishment and force the governing bodies and producers to take a hard look at the what was going on at the time. Quality was suffering and experimentation was stifled by outdated rules and regulations. Not all these new wines were good and many were criticized for not being typical of Italy. Some producers even abandoned using international grapes and winemaking and returned to more traditional practices. But these ground-breaking wines were instrumental in moving Italian wine from quantity to quality based and today Italy is making better wines than ever.

If you’re a craft beer connoisseur that has traveled out west, chances are you’ve heard of the brewery New Belgium. Its roots are in Fort Collins, CO, where Jeff Lebesch took his Belgian inspired beer recipes and ideas from his travels through Europe, and brought them to life in a basement. The starter beers were the Abbey, an earthy brown ale, and Fat Tire, the amber ale that paved the way for the brewery and to this day is in many tap rooms across US. 

Thanks to the brewery’s expansion into it’s second home in Ashville, North Carolina, it’s been able to extend its distribution. The New Belgium legacy recently carried its tasty brews to New England, and right into the hands of Vermont beer drinkers. We’re excited to be distributing it to some of our favorite local watering holes!

Let’s meet some of the key players:

Fat Tire Belgian White Ale- This iconic ale has been satisfying taste buds ever since New Belgium started brewing it 25 years ago. It got its name from New Belgium’s co-founder’s Belgium countryside “fat tire” bike ride, hence the ale’s belgian roots. 

 

Dayblazer Easygoing Ale- This golden ale starts out with an initial honey sweetness, then rounds out with a subtle bitterness. Just as the name suggests, this beer is easy going at 4.8%. Good thing it comes in 24 oz cans!

 

Citradelic Tangerine IPA- The blend of Citra hops and tangerine peel brings a refreshing, tropical taste to the palate with every sip. This well-balanced brew is perfect for beer drinkers who are looking to change it up. Drink this IPA outside on a sunny day and you won’t be disappointed. 

 

We’re pleased to have Goodwater Brewery joining us for our Baker’s Dozen Pub Crawl this Thursday!

Goodwater Brewery is a 20 BBL brewery and tasting room located in Williston, VT. They began operations in the beginning of 2016, and currently produce a variety of brands in both kegs and cans.

Their current lineup consists of 8 different beers in their tasting room which can be enjoyed in sampler flights, pints, or growlers to go. These include the Hoppy Side of Pale, Stange (kolsch-style ale) and their newest release, Hop Collusion IPA- a deliciously drinkable IPA featuring a blend of Simcoe and Citra hops.

Other beers available in the tasting room include Proper Mild, inspiRED, Not for the faint of Tart, (Flemish sour ale), and current seasonal releases of Sweet Winter Brown and Porter 86.

Be sure to visit their Facebook page for more information about current events and tasting room hours!

Also joining our lineup of 13 brewers for the Baker’s Dozen Pub Crawl is the Boston Beer Company!

The Boston Beer Company began in 1984 with a generations-old family recipe that Founder and Brewer Jim Koch uncovered in his father’s attic. Inspired and unafraid to challenge conventional thinking about beer, Jim brought the recipe to life in his kitchen. Pleased with the results of his work, Jim decided to sample his beer with bars in Boston in the hopes that drinkers would appreciate the complex, full-flavored beer he brewed fresh in America. That beer was aptly named Samuel Adams Boston Lager, in recognition of one of our nation’s great founding fathers, a man of independent mind and spirit. Little did Jim know at the time, Samuel Adams Boston Lager would soon become a catalyst of the American craft beer revolution.

What do they have to offer?

Today, The Boston Beer Company brews more than 60 styles of beer. It relentlessly pursues the development of new styles and the perfection of classic beers by searching the world for the finest ingredients. Using the traditional four vessel brewing process, the Company often takes extra steps like dry-hopping, barrel-aging and a secondary fermentation known as krausening. The Company has also pioneered another revolution, the ‘extreme beer’ movement, where it seeks to challenge drinker’s perceptions of what beer can be.

The Boston Beer Company has been committed to elevating the image of American craft beer by entering festivals and competitions around the globe, and is one of world’s most awarded breweries at international beer competitions. As an independent company, brewing quality beer remains its primary focus. Although Samuel Adams beer is America’s leading craft beer, it accounts for only one percent of the U.S. beer market. The Boston Beer Company will continue its independently-minded quest to brew great beer and to advocate for the growth of craft beer across America.

Key Players:

Boston Lager: After being on the market for over 30 years, this refreshing lager is still a staple within the lineup. It’s a full-flavored beer both robust and rich with character.

Summer Ale: This refreshing American wheat ale is returning to the market for the 21st year, this time with limited edition packaging to compliment summer adventures. It’s crisp, citrusy flavor will keep you coming back for more.

Rebel IPA: This IPA has undergone a few recipe alterations over the years, and now offers an intense, juicy, tropical and citrusy flavor that highlights its unique hop character. It is now only brewed with Samuel Adams special two-row malt blend. It also comes in a variety pack featuring an exclusive lineup of variations including the Rebel Juiced IPA, Rebel Grapefruit IPA and Rebel White Citra IPA.

With summer just around the corner, we’re already compiling the tasty drink recipes we want to try out while soaking up some sun. Luckily our friends over at Polar Seltzer have given us plenty of material to work with.

One in particular we can’t wait to try is Very Berry Punch. This recipe is great because it gives you the right portions of the ingredients to start with, and from there you can get creative with the flavors and fruits you want to add. It makes for a fun project to enjoy with the kids and the perfect beverage to serve at a family BBQ!

With the wide array of Polar Seltzer flavors available, we’re already picturing the endless array of combinations we can come up with. Strawberry-watermelon perhaps? Or maybe even pomegranate-lime. Oh the possibilities. Whatever flavors you choose, we hope you enjoy every sip!

There is no better way to welcome Spring than with the flavors of refreshing Vermont craft brews that perfectly highlight the season. What do our Baker Distributing brewers have in store? Let’s take a look at the brews you won’t want to miss out on.

singlechairMagic Hat: Single Chair Golden Ale– We like to think this easy drinking ale is best enjoyed in the sun, or after a long day on the slopes. Why just a single chair you may ask? It commemorates the single chair lift that resides at Mad River, one of only two in the country. As stated on Magic Hat’s website, “As winter’s cover melts to reveal spring’s hidden life, take a ride to the topon the Single Chair and celebrate your independent spirit.”

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Otter Creek- Citra Mantra IPL– This refreshing India Pils Lager is single-hopped with Citra hops. The flavor is highlighted by Pilsner, Munich and Vienna malts that give it a crisp tropical and citrus finish. At 5.75%, this IPL makes for smooth sipping.

 

Switchback- Smoked Märzen- If you like a balanced and hoppy brew that helps you welcome the sites and sounds of spring, this Rauch Bier style Märzen does the trick. With it’s unique smokey flavor from Munich malt, and a touch of bitterness from German Magnum hops and Vanguard hops, you’ll be enjoying every sip of smokey deliciousness. Available in 22oz bottles and in the tap room.

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Switchback- Citra-Pils Keller Bier– Now available year-round, this is another great beer to reach for when you need a light and drinkable brew. It’s citrusy flavor combines characteristics of both a pilsner and IPA, presenting the palate with a unique spin on the typical lager style beer. The key to it’s flavor comes from dry hopping the beer with both Citra and Saaz hops. Expect a touch of lemony flavor on the palate to give it a delightfully refreshing taste. Available in 12oz bottles and in the tap room.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 8.30.21 AMGoodwater- Hoppy Side of Pale– If you like pale ales and you like IPAs, you’ll definitely love a beer that combines the best of both beers. The preliminary flavors of this beer indicate the smooth notes of a full bodied pale ale. Once it lingers longer, you then get a slightly hoppy finish. With these complex flavors to enjoy, you’ll certainly be hopping over to Goodwater for another taste.

 

 

These are just a few reasons to celebrate the long anticipated arrival of spring. It’s time to get outside for some adventure! Whether you sip your next beer from the top of a mountain, at the bottom of the slopes, or simply outside in your yard while grilling with friends, we hope you enjoy every second!

 

The sunny, spring weather we’ve been dreaming about all winter long has finally arrived. This means it’s time to treat ourselves to just the right beverages that complement warmer temperatures. Here at Baker Distributing, we recommend a drinkable Rosé wine. Let’s take a look at some of our new offerings for 2017.

Boyden Valley Winery: Rosé La JuJu RoseLaJuJu-300x830

This wine is made locally right in Cambridge, Vermont. It is dry in taste and full of raspberry flavor that complements its vibrant acidity. It’s made using Frontenac and Cayuga White grapes. Fun Fact: The Rosé is named after the Boyden daughters Juliette and Laurence.

 

Angeline Vineyard and Winery: Pinot Noir RoséAng_rose_2016_web

Enjoy a delicate, fruity flavor of strawberry and citrus when you uncork a bottle of this Rosé. It is rich with aromas of watermelon, nectarine, ruby red grapefruit, lilies, and orange blossoms. 

 

 

 

Martin Ray Vineyard and Winery: Pinot Noir Rosé

Treat yourself to a blend of blood orange, kiwifruit, passionfruit and coconut flavors, mingling with the aromas of watermelon and orange creme. This Rosé would be ideal for a relaxing afternoon in the sun. 

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With Easter and Mother’s Day just around the corner, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate with the ones you love. Keep these rosés in mind when you’re looking for the perfect wine for the occasion. Happy sipping!

 

There’s nothing like a refreshing cold beer to quench your thirst after a long run or a relaxing yoga session. In fact, the two have been known to pair quite well together, giving Switchback Brewing Company the perfect opportunity to give customers some spring events that warrant a well-deserved carbonated beverage.

Run Vermont Half Marathon Unplugged

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The Half Marathon Unplugged is this Saturday April 8th, 2017. It’s organized by RunVermont and presented by Switchback. The finish line on Flynn Avenue conveniently puts runners right at the brewery after party where they get to enjoy one complimentary beer and various food offerings. After running 13.1 miles along Lake Champlain while battling potentially chilly spring temperatures and wind, we can’t think of a better way to refuel and recover. Read more about the event here.

Stretch and Sip in the Switchback Taproom

Stretch and SipCheck out Switchback’s recurring “Stretch and Sip” events that take place one Sunday a month. The session happens right in the tap room and you simply have to BYOM- bring your own mat. After a 60-minute Vinyasa flow class that allows you to relax and unwind, you get to enjoy a pint or flight of your choice that’s included in your $20 registration fee. Maybe you’ll even try your luck at balancing in tree pose while sipping your way through a sampler. Not a bad way to wrap up a weekend and prepare for the work week ahead! Check their Facebook page to learn how to sign up for the next Stretch and Sip session.

 

 

If you’re looking to combine your favorite spring activities with your love of Vermont beer, be sure to keep an eye out for other Switchback events like these in the upcoming months. Staying fit while enjoying the beers you love has never been easier!

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Baker family to yours! In honor of one of our favorite holidays we have compiled three classic Irish recipes all made using Bakers Irish brands of course!

First up is Smithwick’s Irish Beer and Cheese bread! This bread is hearty enough to be a meal in itself but we prefer it as a before dinner snack or paired it with eggs and bacon for a filling breakfast.

Smithwick's Irish Beer & Cheese Bread (1)

Ingredients & Instructions

Next up we have an Irish classic – Guinness Beef Stew! This recipe is great for family dinners or a small dinner party.

Guinness Beef Stew

Ingredients

Last but not least we have an Irish twist on an American classic – Magners Irish Cider Mac & Cheese. The perfect combo of sweet and savory, we cannot get enough of this stuff!

Magners Irish Cider Mac & Cheese (1)

Ingredients (1)

Be sure to comment and let us know which one is your favorite!

Spring is in the air and on the shelves here at Baker! We have a variety of spiked seltzers in the warehouse including Truly Spiked & Sparkling, Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer and for the kids Polar Seltzers.

Truly Spiked & Sparkling

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Truly’s Spiked & Sparkling comes in four varieties:  Colima Lime, Grapefruit & Pomelo, Sicilian Blood Orange, Pomegranate. All four beverages offer a fruity flavor at half the calories of most pre-mixed adult beverages. Even if you aren’t counting calories, Truly, comes in small cans that can be easily toted to the beach making it the perfect refresher on a spring break vacay.

Aside from being a great drink for the beach, Truly can be used to make tons of tasty mixed drinks like this Sangria! After mixing up our own batch we can we have to say this quite delicious. Fruity and sweet yet still refreshing – perfect for a light lunch on the shore or dinner with friends.

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Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer

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Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer comes in three varieties: Watermelon, Cranberry Lime and Orange Mango. Unlike Truly these guys are only sold in cans and a variety pack that is perfect for a barbecue or day on the water. Our team has been loving the Cranberry Lime flavor so we decided to mix up our own little twist on the Moscow Mule.

Baker's Cranberry Mule

 

Polar Seltzer

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Spiked Seltzer may be all the rage but when it comes to vacations it’s always nice to have something for the kids as well. Polar seltzers are a great substitute for soda without sacrificing the fruity flavors kids love, just the sugar. Polar comes in a variety of sizes and flavors making it an easy beverage for on the go. Our team even made our own Polar mocktails!

 

Let us know what you think of these recipes in the comments!


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