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 #cigar.com #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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I am not sure what to #smoke for my #pairing today. #humidor #cigarpairings #cigars #cigar #cigarporn



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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blond Beauties

My wife and I were discussing what to make for dinner and she suggested that I make a shrimp dish she really enjoys.
In this recipe, it calls for white wine. Not wanting to open the bottle just for a 1/2 cup for the shrimp I decided to do a white wine pairing.

Most people think you can't pair a premium cigar with white wine, but I disagree. There are plenty of milder cigars and bold enough white wines that all you need is to find the right match. Tonight I think I did. This is a really good contrast to my last pairing Dark and Delicious.

CIGAR: Gurka Beauty  6x60

WINE: Glenora Wine Cellers' Barrel fermented Chardonnay



The Cigar Kaizad Hansotia, president of Gurkha Cigars created the Gurkha Beauty after the launch of his highly rated Beast. The Beauty starts with a 7-year-old Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper that encases a Dominican binder and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler that is no less than 5 years old. The 60 ring Beauty imparts a lot of smoke, it fills the room but is not overpowering. The balance of these tobaccos creates a smooth, well-balance cigar that has notes of coffee and nut with a creamy finish. This cigar is as smooth as they come. It is not overly complex, juts a good solid mild to medium bodied cigar. 

The Wine: Glenora Wine Cellars was another wonderful find on my recent trip to Seneca lake in upstate New York. 
They create a lot of very good wines but I was extremely impressed with their Barrel Fermented Chardonnay.  
The wine is fermented in French oak barrels giving it a very smooth and round flavor. The color is like straw and the wine has hints of melon that make it a very smooth, pleasant wine.



The Pairing: I have to admit, when I first opened the bottle of Glenora Wine Cellars' Barrel Fermented chardonnay, i was a bit concerned about my choice. The nose is a bit delicate but hidden back there is the oak giving the Chardonnay a bit more punch. This really paired very well with Gurkha's Beauty cigar. The beauty having a 7 year aged Connecticut wrapper is so smooth and mild that at no time did it overpower this wine. And the wine has such a long finish that you really have a nice blend of flavors on your pallet.

Another great thing about this pairing is the price. The Glenora Wine Cellars' Barrel fermented Chardonnay will run you $15.99 a bottle and is available in many stores and on their website.

The Gurkha Beauty will run you about $10 a stick depending on where you find it. A lot of companies are selling them as 10-packs, but you might be able to find 5-packs at places like Cigar.com, Famous Cigars or Cigars International

So I really recommend both the cigar and the wine. And on a side note the Chardonnay paired really well with my shrimp scampi!




Tonight's pairing.



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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Readers Choice Suggestions

hey out there in blog land, I am reaching out to all of you who are cigar smokers to let me know what cigars you like to smoke. I will then, hopefully, match up a nice wine or other liquor that I think would pair well with your cigar.

So give me a few suggestions and I will do my best.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shorty comes to Drew Estate

Drew Estate has now partnered with Jonathan Drew to produce a new size cigar in both the Acid line and Natural line.  The Acid cigar is a 4x60 in size andhas all the same flavors of an DE infused cigar. The Natural Shorty is a 4 1/2 x 50 ring cigar and reminds me of the Natural Dirt.  Being a larger ring gauge it has more flavors and a very enjoyable smoke.

If your short on tine, these Shorty cigars can fill the bill.


Monday, November 11, 2013

A Veteran's Day story

Oldest Living Veteran Cites Whiskey, Cigars As Key To Longevity
http://huff.to/1bnHZSc

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dark and Delicious

It's now one week into Eastern Standard Time and I finally thought of of a suitable paring for these darker evenings. When we go back to standard time, it's dark at 6:00 pm. It's a time of year where I really need to stay positive as to not get into a slump. It's so easy to come home, eat and basically crash. That's where a good pairing comes in perfectly. After a great dinner, I can sit out on my porch and relax, even if it's only for 30 minutes, and any stress of the day melts away.

So in honor of the darker evenings, I decided on a dark pairing.

Recently, a new wine was released for a limited time and I searched my humidor for an old favorite that I really knew would pair very well.

Cigar: Toraño Master Maduro

 Wine: Apothic Dark


The Cigar:
The Toraño Master Maduro, is a cigar that was a
collaboration between Charlie Toraño and master roller, Felipe Sosa.
The original Master launched in 2010 getting really high marks for it's quality and flavor and the Maduro version is no exception.
This cigar has a beautiful sun-grown Nicaraguan Habano Maduro wrapper. It is fermented for an extended period of time giving it it's deep color and complex flavor. It has a Habano binder from Ecuador and the fillers are made up of Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic tobaccos.
This is a very rich and smooth cigar with hints of cocoa and spice.
It is a definitely one of my favorite Maduros.

The Wine:
A year or so ago I was introduced to Apothic Red at a local restaurant with a wonderful selection of wines. The table red did not disappoint, so when my wife told me about the limited release of Apothic Dark, I had to try it. I was not disappointment and the name fits.

Dark, is really the only way to describe this red wine.
In doing a little research I was actually surprised that this release was not on Apothic's website and I could not find out what grapes are used in the blend.
I can tell you that Apothic Dark has flavors that are a mix of a dark and ripe blackberry and blueberry with notes of coffee,dark chocolate and smokey tobacco. The finish, was smooth and velvety

This was the perfect wine to have after my rich, steak dinner.

The Pairing:
From the prelight of the cigar to the the first sip of the wine, I knew this pairing was going to be one of  my favorites.
The Master Maduro cigar was so well balanced and smooth that when I took a sip of the wine there was not fight, no residual, lingering bite from the cigar. The wine perfectly complimented the cigar with it's deep berry and cocoa notes and again, a very long and smooth finish.

I am recommending this paring to anyone who likes a nice full red, no to too dry but rich and complex and a cigar that is a straightforward medium bodied Maduro that is smooth and doesn't bite.

The price isn't bad eaither. You can get both a robusto of the Toraño Master Maduro and a bottle of the Apothic Dark for right around $20.
With these flavors and at that price, this pairing is a no brainer.







Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Over a Cigar night

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be on the Over a Cigar internet radio show again Thursday the 7th.


This week I am bring a new cigar from the Foundry Tobacco Co. I is part of their Elements line.

This is a new boutique collection of premium cigars by General Cigar and a new brand. It was created by Philadelphia born, Michael Giannin.

Tune in Thursday night to see what the guys and I think of this new cigar.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Glimpse of Nicaragua

Being a photographer I get to travel to some very interesting places. Being a cigar smoker, one of the most interesting places I have recently visited was Nicaragua.

Nicaragua is located just south of Honduras and north of Costa Rica in Central America.

Some of the world's best cigars are produced and exported from Nicaragua.



One of the main reasons Nicaragua is such a hotbed for cigar tobacco is the soil. These volcanic lands, with dry soil, deliver a powerful and aromatic tobacco that produces great cigars. The tobacco from this region differs greatly from other countries. It has special sweet flavors, oiliness and refined spicy notes that make it prized by many cigar smokers.

In the northwest part of the country, not far from the Honduran border, is the city of Esteli.

Esteli is the second biggest city in Nicaragua and is home to the majority of Nicaraguan cigar production. The lands around Esteli are perfect for growing tobacco for use in cigars. 
The Esteli region has black and fertile soil and produces a heavy, full-flavored tobacco leaf. It is characteristically dark, and rich with full aromas, body, and flavor. Esteli is known for producing the most powerful of all Nicaraguan tobacco.

Many award winning cigars like Padron and San Lotano have come out of the small town of Esteli where their pride and culture keeps them striving to create an even better cigar.



Other important growing regions in Nicaragua are the Condega valley, Jalapa valley and the island of Ometepe which is located off the coast of Nicaragua.

Tobacco in the Condega valley is mostly sun-grown but with the heavy cloud cover in this area the tobacco plants have thinner leaves. The leaves here are used a lot for filler and binder and are usually very strong.

The island of Ometepe is located off the coast of Nicaragua. This island was created by the twin volcanoes called Concepcion and Madera which rise out of Lake Nicaragua. Concepcion volcano is the tallest of the two and is still active, while Madera volcano is considered to be extinct or dormant.
It is on this island where the volcanic soil is extremely fertile, and allows perfect conditions for growing tobacco for cigars. Tobacco grown on this island is described as producing a sweet and a uniquely spicy tobacco almost peppery.

 The Jalapa Valley is Northeast of Esteli near the boarder with Hondurus. The fertile soils here have been perfect for growing many different types of tobacco including the Criollo 98 hybrid.
This leaf was one of the original Cuban seed tobaccos and this hybrid helped in the production do to it's resistance to Blue mold.

There are many large premium cigar manufacturers today in Nicaragua.
My eyes were opened on my trip to Nicaragua. From the beautiful surroundings to the wonderful people, my trip was informative and enjoyable. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it.
All photographs by Michael Barone, copyright 2013