Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday Treat

It's the holiday season and this is always the time people break out the "good stuff".
Personally I think any day you are off work or get together with friends you should always break out the good stuff but, it does seem that we save things for special occasions.

The good things in life should always be shared and a fine wine an great cigar are no exception.

So in the spirit of the holidays I broke out my good stuff and decided to share my thoughts with you.

CIGAR: Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Belicoso

WINE: Michele Chiarlo 2006 Barolo Tortoniano

The Cigar: I have been a cigar smoker for over 30 years, one of my first cigars ever was an Arturo Fuente 8-5-8. My first real premium box of cigars, I was in heaven. So since those innocent days I have had a fondness for almost any Arturo Fuente cigar. One of my top 10 cigars is the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos.
Today I smoked the Belicoso, a perfecto shape that is 6'" x 52 ring.
I think it is the perfect size to taste all the nuances in the tobaccos.  This cigar has a smooth African Cameroon wrapper that encases an all Dominican binder and fillers. It is considered a medium to full bodied cigar, but I really feel it is a straight medium bodied cigar, full of wonderfully rich earthy notes and some hints of dark cocoa and espresso.
This was and still is one of my all-time favorite cigars.

The Wine: When choosing a wine I went back, again to one of my favorite wine regions on the planet, the Piemonte region of Italy. One of the reasons that this is my favorite region besides they create incredible wines, is that part of my family is from and still lives in this region.
So, I definitely have a connection to this wine making region of the world  besides the abundance of wonderful grapes, such as the Nebbiolo grape used to make the Michele Chiarlo 2006 Barolo Tortoniano.
The wine is 100% Nebbiolo grape and it takes it's name, Tortoniano, from the region in Piemonte that these grapes were grown. The soil here is rich with clay which helps give this Barolo a very complex flavor. The wine is aged in french oak barrels for two years before it is aged another year in the bottle.
It has a garnet color and a very deep aroma. The Michele Chiarlo 2006 Barolo Tortoniano has received 93 points from Wine Spectator, 92 points from Wine Enthusiast, 91 points from Wine Advocate and from me, I'd give it an 89.
These publications talk about its deep aroma and round, robust taste and its smoothness. I agree with all of that, but it looses points for me because I feel it wasn't as complex as a wine of this price point should be. What you taste on the first sip continued throughout the tasting experience without much change or growth. I like a bit more complexity in my wine. This one was sort of a one note wine, good, but one note.

The Pairing:
A nice Barolo from Piemonte Italy and an Arturo Fuente Don Carlos is by far a wonderful way to spend an hour during the holidays.
The Barolo wine pairs very nicely with the Cameroon wrapper and Dominican blend fillers of this cigar. The reason I think this is a special occasion pairing is the price.

A single of the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos will run you about $10.00 and a bottle of the Michele Chiarlo 2006 Barolo Tortoniano will set you back around $50.
As I said previously, this cigar is on my top 10 list and so is a good Barolo, but I feel for the money, this vintage didn't cut it.
I would definitly try another vintage or vineyard, but if you are buying a Barolo make sure it's from the Piemonte region of Italy, you can't go wrong.

Happy Holidays to all and I wish you a very prosperous and wonderful 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Best of 2013

Every year, Cigar Aficionado posts there top cigars of the year based on their rating scale.
Sometimes I agree with their picks, sometimes I don't.
This year their number 1 cigar is the Cuban Montecristo No. 2. A great cigar if you can get it, the only problem is being in the USA we aren't lucky enough to get Cuban cigars.

But, there really are some notables on their list:
Number 10 is the Ashton VSG, a sun grown beauty.

Number 8 is the Herrera Esteli, a great team where Willie Herrera meets Drew Estate.

Number 6 is my favorite the Arturo Fuente Don Carlos No. 2

And at Number 4, the Padron 1964 Anniversary Series. A solid wonderful cigar.

But, if you don't want to drop over $10 a stick for these and the other beauties on the list, Cigar Aficionado gives you another list of the Best Bargain Cigars of 2013.

On this list you will find the Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story, the Asylum Vintage, the Cusano 18 Corojo, the CAO Concert and many more, all great cigars at a really good price.

Any of these cigars will make a great compliment to your holiday festivities, so why not try them out and let me know what you think.

Santa's Christmas smoke. Guerra #Guerra #cigar #cigars #cigarsmoking #Christmas #cigarporn #cigarpairings #christmascigar

Santa is getting ready for a very long night with a really great cigar, Guerra.
Look for it at and also Cigars International.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Second view of the #Padron 1926 Series 40th Anniversary Chest #cigarporn #cigarpairings #cigarsmoking #cigars #cigar #luxury

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Cigar of the day, #Padron 1926 Series 40th Anniversary Chest. 40 cigars #cigar #cigarsmoking #cigars #cigarporn #cigarpairings

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Fake rare wine sells at auction

A trial in New York just ended about a man who suckered hard core, rare wine buyers into buying his homemade wine.
It seems the wine snobs saw some rare vintages come up to auction and were so enthusiastic to see them, they never thought to look into the authenticity of the wines.

To read more check the article out here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New customizable images for the cigar lover. #cigarart #baronephotography #baronephotoart #cigars #cigar #women #smokinhotchick

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A nice midafternoon pairing, Nat Sherman Metropolitan and Lakewood Vineyard's Port. #wine #cigar #cigars #cigarpairings #cigarporn #natsherman #lakewoodvineyard

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New York State of Mind

Today we received a bit of snow here in eastern PA and it got me thinking about the upcoming winter and how I enjoy visiting New York this time of year. There are a lot of iconic historic holiday visions that surround New York; the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, ice skating in Central Park and the snow up in the Finger Lakes.

So with the holiday's right around the corner, I thought I'd do a pairing with it's historic roots in New York. The cigar company started in New York City in 1930 and the winery a bit further up state in Watkins Glen in 1951.

Wine: Lakewood Vineyards 2011 Port
The Cigar: Nat Sherman cigars has been a family owned,  premium cigar company for over 80. Currently run by Nat Sherman's son, Joel, the tradition of a fine premium cigar has not wavered.
Today I smoked the Metropolitan blend which is a cigar made in the Dominican Republic using a premium Connecticut Shade wrapper and all Dominican binders and fillers. This is a mild bodied cigar that doesn't lack flavor. The cigar has the simple Nat Sherman band with their iconic clock on it and the construction is flawless. The flavors are well balance and creamy, yet it still remains mild on the pallet. The cigar had some subtle earth notes with hints of roasted coffee toward the last third of the cigar. The burn was perfect down to the band with a firm ash.
An enjoyable mid-afternoon smoke.

The Wine: Another one of my finds during my recent trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York is the Lakewood Vineyards located on Seneca Lake. This vineyard has won many awards for their wines and produces a full line of wines from dry whites and reds, to sweeter wines like ice wines and even mead, but what caught my eye, or should I say taste buds was their 2011 Port. I am a sucker for a good port and Lakewood Vineyards port is no exception. A port wine is usually a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the northern provinces of Portugal. But with the great soils and climate other areas are having you are finding fortified wine's like Port being produce elsewhere. The Lakewood port really hit my pallet perfectly. It has a very big nose of dark berry and it is very smooth and velvety on your tongue. The finish has a slight hint of anise. 

The Pairing: The basic concept of this pairing was matching up two New York icons during a mid-afternoon snow. What I got was a very enjoyable afternoon on my porch watching the snow fall and enjoying my drink and smoke. The two paired very well together. The subtle coffee notes in the Nat Sherman Metropolitan cigar paired very well with those deep berry notes from the Lakewood Vineyards 2011 Port. The pairing is also not hard on the wallet. Most retailers like sell the Nat Sherman for about $5.50 while the Lakewood Vineyards Port is only $15.00 a bottle and available through their website.
If you are looking for a really easy going pairing I definitely suggest this one, you won't regret it.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A little cigar art. I figured I shoot photograph what I was smoking, a Diamond Crown Maximus. #cigar #cigars #cigarart #cigarpairings #cigarporn

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Black Friday Smoke

I went into the studio on Black Friday, the job load was light so I had time to photograph my smoke of the day. I smoked a Diamond Crown Maximus, a medium bodied smoke that was very smooth. This cigar is a blend that was the joint effort of the J.C. Newman, Oliva and Fuente families. It has an Equadorian wrapper from Oliva, and the filler is Dominican from Fuente. All rolled in the J.C. Newman factory. 

This was the first time tried this cigar and I recommend it.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

After dinner #smoke. Guerra, available at #cigars #cigar #cigarpairings

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Pre Thanksgiving dinner smoke. #cigars #cigar #Perdomo #cigarpairings

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Special Thanksgiving Pairing

Today is Thanksgiving. A day of family, friends and food. but don't forget the wine and cigars.

I was thinking about what cigar I am having tonight and it really is going to depend on the wine. Since the main course today will be turkey one would suspect a white wine.

I do like a nice oaked Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris with the main part of the meal, but since there are so many different flavors on a typical Thanksgiving table there is a place for multiple wines, including a nice red like a Petit Verdot or a Zinfandel. In fact, the evening will probably start out with a glass of something bubbly like Proscecco.

So at the end of the meal, when you I am sitting back relaxing, I think I am going to treat myself to one of my favorite smokes Arturo Fuente Hemingway. It is a wonderful medium bodied cigar with Cameroon wrapper giving it a deep earthy flavor, perfect after a big meal.

So that's my plan for the day, what's yours?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Italian Classics

It seems winter is trying to muscle in on fall. The weather here today was chilly but sunny and I wanted a pairing that would help warm me up. As I normally do for pairings I went to my humidor first. I really couldn't decide on what cigar to smoke, so I changed tactics and went to my wine cellar and there I saw a bottle that reminded me of the perfect cigar I had aging in my humidor.

Cigar: CAO La Traviata

Wine: Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chanti Classico DOCG 2010

The Cigar:
In 2010, Cigar Aficionado magazine rated the CAO La Traviata as number 15 in their top 25 cigars of the year.

The cigar has a beautiful Ecuadorian Havana wrapper, a Cameroon binder and it's fillers are Nicaraguan and Dominican, giving this cigar wonderful complexity.
I smoked the "Radiante" size which is a nice 6x52. When I first lit it, the draw was perfect. The smoke was full but not overbearing. La Traviata started on a spicy note but then rounded out with flavors of dark chocolate and an almost nutty tone.
Even though this cigar had very good construction, I had a bit of canoeing due to a strong vain, but once I touched it up with my single flame torch lighter it burned fine. The burn did not take away from the flavor and enjoyment one bit.

The Wine: Being of Italian decent I love most things Italian, including my wine. When I first came upon the Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chanti Classico DOCG I actually bought it because of the name seeing that my last name is on the label. I am really glad I did.
I read that it received a 90 rating in Wine Spectator and thought that was a good start. Being a DOCG wine means that this wine also has good pedigree. But none of that means I will like the wine, but this one did not disappoint me.
From the minute I corked the bottle through my last sip I enjoyed this Chianti thoroughly.

It has a very deep ruby color and the nose was rich and deep. It was well balance and had wonderful hints of blackberry and some spice.

The blend is 80 % Sangiovese , 15% Merlot and 5%, Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a classic Chianti blend and this vintage was dry but not overly acidic. It is fermented in stainless steel barrels then aged another 9 months in smaller oak barrels rounding out it's smooth and deep flavor.

The Pairing: I have to admit that when I thought up this pairing I was playing on the classic Italian Chianti and the operatic themed La Traviata. I knew the basic flavors of both and thought it would pair well but this went beyond my expectations.

The nutty and chocolaty  notes of the CAO La Traviata blended extremely well with the dark and spicy notes of the Brolio Chianti Classico.

As for price, you really can't get hurt either. The CAO La Traviata unfortunately is a bit tough to find these days but if you do the toro size is only about $7.00. The Brolio is now on it's 2011 vintage which has also received high praise and it will only set you back about $12. Making this pairing not only perfect but extremely affordable. 

All I can say now is is Bravo and Encore! 

Today's pairing #CAO La Traviata and Barone Ricasoli Brolio #cigars #cigar #cigarpairings #cigarporn #wine #winepairing

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