News & Events


American Bubbles!

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 2.23.15 PM.pngIn the world of sparkling wine, there’s a lot more out there than Champagne on December 31st and bottom shelf Prosecco for every other Sunday morning during the year. But when it comes to finding affordable sparkles, it’s hard to discern the good stuff from the mass-produced, flavorless, and dare we say it - super sweet - sparkling wine. All this confusion in the world of bubbles is too bad, however, because we think wine in all it’s sparkling forms is great for any occasion, including all bankrolled holidays. So if your looking to side step rose season, or your host’s preference for the Champagne of beer, celebrate this Fourth of July with some killer domestic sparkling wine.

American’s have been making sparkling wine since the 1800s, but it wasn’t until the second half of the 20th century that it started to really catch on. From the get-go, many US winemakers turned to the Champagne model for making sparkling wines. Similar to the French AOC, cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from state-side regions like California, Michigan and the Pacific North West, make for fresh, sparkling wines with balanced acidity and finesse. Over the past few decades, American sparkling wine production has increased in both diversity and production, and we can’t get enough of it.

So, if you didn’t plan your route to the fireworks depot at the Indiana state line before the holiday weekend traffic hit, check out some of our home-grown sparklers instead.

Finke’s 2017 Blanc de Blancs, California

Brooks 2015 Extended Tirage Sparkling Riesling, Willamette Valley

Davis Family 2016 Sparkling Rose de Noir, Dutton Ranch

Under the Wire 2014 Brosseau Vineyard Sparkling Chardonnay

Ransom 2017 Rosato Frizzante Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills


Fourth of July - Belle Isle Bubbler!

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Single Serving
Ingredients:
- 2oz Valentine White Blossom Elderflower Vodka
- 1.5oz Grapefruit Juice
- .5oz Lime Juice
- 1oz Grapefruit Oleo (see Oleo directions)
Dash of Salt or Saline Solution

Build into solo cup, add ice, top with Sparkling Rose, throw a straw in it and party.

Punch size!
1 Bottle Valentine White Blossom Elderflower Vodka
18.75oz Grapefruit Juice
6.25oz Lime Juice
12.5oz Grapefruit Oleo
Throw some salt in it to taste

Combine all ingredients into a large pitcher and stir.
Serve individually over ice and top with Sparkling Rose.

Grapefruit Oleo Directions:
4 grapefruits, zested and peeled
1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice

Muddle the zest and peels with the sugar, then let sit for 30 minutes. Mix with the lemon juice, then strain off the peels. Strain and put in a bottle. Voilà! You have grapefruit syrup.



And don’t forget to RSVP for our first ever spirits portfolio tasting Boiling Point 173!
Monday, July 22nd
1pm - 4pm
Eleven|Eleven
1111 West Lake Street Chicago, IL 60607
RSVP HERE


Major País Love

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Image from VinePair, published July 1, 2019

VinePair is showing some major love for País this summer, and we are all about it. Check out their article about some of the killer old vine wines from South America, including the folks at Cara Sur and Gonzalez Bastias: Low-Intervention Winemaking Is Giving this Ancient Grape a Modern Boost

Roll call! País at Cream:

Old World plantings may have put Chile and Argentina on the map for mainstream wine sales, but it is the centuries-old, dry farmed, often ungrafted Criolla vines and granitic soils in the Secano Interior’s Bío-Bío and Itata that have inspired the next generation of winemakers (and cidermakers!). Many South American winemakers are at the forefront of instituting progressive, climate-conscious practices. These wine producers, like Clos des Fous and González Bastías, are committed to promoting Chile’s rich history of a long neglected and local farming community, along with investing in the country’s future, though practicing sustainable winemaking techniques.

País, low-maintenance in the field but difficult in the cellar, proves to be a perfect grape for low-intervention practices, including carbonic maceration. Take Pipeño - light, fresh, and fruit driven, dismissed in the era of Bordeaux as the poor man’s wine, but now gaining traction in the global market as Chile’s Beaujolais Nouveau. At Vina Maitia in the Maule Valley, Old World trained Frenchman David Marcel put his Pipeño in beer bottles, emphasizing the wine’s easy drinking nature, with all the bright, fruity notes that the world loves in French glou glou.

We are excited to work with Brazos to showcase exemplary, sustainable wines coming from Chile and Argentina. We’re stocked up on a bunch of great País, with more on the way this summer!

Gonzalez Bastias Matorral 100% Pais from 200 yr old vines made completely traditionally and by hand. The vineyard is farmed without irrigation or the use of machines and according to biodynamic principles. Sweet notes of plum, almonds, anise, and brown sugar show on the nose with hints of pineapple sage, pine nettles, and and brown sugar lead to a smooth, nicely balanced palate. Plus, check out their Orange - new drop!

Vina Maitia Aupa Pipeno Pipeño is an old style of Chilean wine that was produced in a simple manner and meant to be enjoyed by farmers. While pipeño historically has a reputation as a quaff some folks drink like water, David Marcel and Loreto Garau, owners and operators of Viña Maitia, believe pipeño is a Chilean wine tradition worth preserving. This fruit driven, easy drinking wine has fresh acid and low tannin. It’s a perfect summertime red that can be enjoyed with a range of casual fare (including seafood) throughout the evening. Serve chilled. 2018 arriving in a few weeks!

Vina Maitia Itzal 100% old vine Pais. Plum, currant, red fruits, and toasted pine nuts dance around notes of dried herbs, a saline quality, and wet soil on the nose. The palate shows red fruit and crushed dried leaves held up by a good structure of tannin and acid.

Clos des Fous PMG Assemblage “Pour Ma Gueule” is a term commonly used by French vintners which translates to “For my gob” and usually refers to a stash of wine determined too good to sell to the public and reserved for the winemakers’ personal consumption. Notes of red berries, black cherry and pepper, with bright acidity and fine tanins.


Santa Cruz Rocks - Thomas Fogarty Winery

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There’s a lot of reasons to visit Santa Cruz - redwood forests, soaring ocean coastlines, and a couple more days of sunshine than us here in Chicago. As it turns out, all that we love about the area is exactly what makes it such a great place for wine. Santa Cruz’s viticulture is defined by its mountainous topography and diverse microclimates. Near the fog filled coast, warm days and cool, breezy nights are ideal for highly concentrated, slow ripening fruits like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. On the eastern side, warmer weather lends itself to the production of hearty reds, including Zinfandel, Cabernet and Merlot. To boot, the rocky, well drained soils of the region are also geologically complex, filled with clay, loam, limestone and decomposed rock.

The AVA went official in 1981, but Santa Cruz viticulture history goes back so far as the early 1800s, when Catholic missionaries first made their way to California. During the second half of the 19th century, the boom in the logging industry began clearing land ripe for vines, which proved to be quite timely, as the Gold Rush began bringing hoards of hopefuls to the region. Lured west by promises of riches, only to be soon sorely disappointed after a very long wagon ride, early French and Italian immigrants began planting vineyards in their new home.

As history would have it, Santa Cruz proved much more lucrative for wine than for gold. Gold Fever turned to Vine Fever, as rows of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot flourished under the California sun. By the turn of the 20th century, there were over 40 small wineries in the region. Prohibition during the 1920s briefly dampened the mood, but the United States government could not keep us sober for long, and by the mid 20th century, the Santa Cruz wine industry was back in full swing.

Viticulture in the region was further enabled by the Williamson Act of 1965, also known as the California Land Conservation Act. Under the agreement, the government would cut property taxes for owners of farm and open space land if they left their properties undeveloped for at least ten years. Today, Santa Cruz’s is home to 60+ wineries and over 200 small vineyards - a community that is redefining California wines and making big strides in sustainable farming practices.

In 1976 Dr. Thomas Fogarty, a practicing heart surgeon and medical device inventor, decided to dedicate 350 acres of land to open space. Needing an active agriculture purpose for inclusion in the Williamson Act, but still undecided on what to grow, Fogarty was all set to turn his acres into a kiwi farm. Lucky for us, a few fellow Stanford physicians introduced him to a couple of Burgundy wines and Santa Cruz winemakers, and Fogarty decided to leave kiwis for the Italians and start planting vines.

FogartyFog.jpg In 1977, Fogarty teamed up with Michael Martella, a fourth generation grape grower and winemaker in California. Over the next four years the two men planted six core vineyards, releasing the inaugural Fogarty vintage in 1986. Today, the property remains in the Williamson Act, which means that the entire estate is preserved as a heritage oak and fir forest. Fogarty Sr., now joined by his son Tom Jr., along with Martella, employ organic farming practices and minimal intervention winemaking. Just 10 miles from the ocean on the eastern side of the ridge, the estate’s vines are rooted 2,000 feet ASL in fractured marine shale and sandstone soils.

Through employing low intervention viticulture and viniculture practices, Fogarty’s wines show all there is to love about Santa Cruz terroir, with lower vigor, tension and acid. Fava and oats are planted as cover crops, bacillus and mineral oil combat mildew, and minimal (if any) irrigation is deployed during the growing season.



ThomasFogartyGewurztSmall.jpg Thomas Fogarty 2015 Gewurztraminer, Monterey County
If you are as eager as Wine Spectator for a Big Little Lies ladies’ trip to wine country, you can stave off your excitement this season with this Monterey white.
Balance is key in this Gewurztraminer. Notes of green apple, lychee and melon are matched with classic jasmine and ginger aromatics. This vintage is rich in body, with a killer balance of sugar and acid. Pair with chicken, grilled night shades and spicy curries.

ThomasFogartyPinotNoirSantaCruzSmall.jpg Thomas Fogarty 2014 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
Don’t miss out on Fogarty’s Pinot Noirs - this 2014 vintage is fresh and floral, with notes of pepper, bright red stone fruit and roses. Full of energy, the flavors and texture of this wine are unmistakably Santa Cruz Mountains.

ThomasFogartyChardonnaySantaCruzSmall.jpg Thomas Fogarty 2016 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains
This one’s filled with aromas of pear, pastry cream, subtle spice and blanched almonds. On the palate, it is satiny and flavorful and built around bright acidity but also cut from a more giving cloth than the more structured, taut vineyard-designate bottling. The finish is long and pure. Enjoy this in its youth or for the better part of a decade.


FEATURED: Boiling Point 173! Cream Spirits Portfolio Tasting

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Hey trade - mark your calendars! We’re excited to invite the beverage community to our first-ever spirits portfolio tasting. The past few years we’ve hosted Agave Week with great support from you. This year we’ve invited all of our spirits producers (+ mixology-friendly adjuncts) to Illinois. We will have tasting tables as well as an R+D station where you can test the products in cocktails. We hope you can make it!

Monday, July 22nd
1pm - 4pm
Eleven|Eleven
1111 West Lake Street Chicago, IL 60607


Directions: Eleven Eleven is located in the West Loop close to the Morgan “L” station. Parking is free but sometimes scarce.

RSVP HERE
Trade Only Please


SAKE SMACKDOWN AT KATANA

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019
6:30pm // $85 per person (not inclusive of tax and tip)
Call Katana Chicago for reservations: (312) 877-5544

For International Sushi Day 2019, we’ve decided to do something extreme, something that perhaps has never before been done in Chicago. We’re putting The Sake Ninja Chris Johnson and Sake Esquire Masahiro Takeda to the test in a quickfire sake pairing challenge.

Join Cream and Katana for this 6-course tasting menu with a twist. Both Chris Johnson, representing World Sake Imports, and Masahiro Takeda, representing Wine of Japan, will pair their sake with 3 of the courses. The catch? Neither will know the dishes until the night of the dinner! A coin toss will decide who goes first. Then, each will have 10 minutes to try their course before it’s served and choose a sake from their portfolio to match. There’s another catch! Only 6 sakes from each portfolio will be available that night, and they cannot use a sake more than once.

Who will win this game of flavors?

You decide. During the dinner, guests will rate the sake pairings to declare either The Sake Ninja or Sake Esquire the “King of Flavor!”

#sakesmackdown // #creamsakeweek

The Sake Ninja Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson is Chris Pearce’s right hand man and represents World Sake Imports in the U.S. World Sake Imports (established in 1998 by Chris Pearce) represents regional sake breweries and shochu distilleries that produce premium beverages. The breweries are among the most respected in Japan; they are standard-bearers for the industry in terms of quality, innovation and technical mastery. Chris Johnson’s accolades include: sake sommelier certified by the Sake Service Institute, member of the board of directors for The Joy of Sake, judge for the U.S. National Sake Appraisal since 2000, Level 3 sake educator certified by WSET, Sake Samurai title earned in 2013.

Sake Esquire Masahiro Takeda
Third generation Masahiro Takeda is currently the vice president of Wine of Japan (and yes, he is also a lawyer). Established in 1973, Wine of Japan is one of the oldest family owned and operated national importers and distributors of ultra-premium Japanese sake, spirits and beer. With over 42 years of experience, WOJ continues to introduce the best Japan has to offer to an ever-growing audience in the United States. Keeping current with evolving consumer palates, the portfolio is continuously evaluated and curated to ensure that only the most exclusive and select products are offered. Longevity is a testament to WOJ’s expertise, foresight, and unrelenting focus on customer service.


FEATURED: Cream Sake Portfolio Tasting & Seminar

sakeweekpictures.jpg 41 Unique Japanese Sakes
27 Producers
15 Sake Rice Varieties
7 Japanese Regions
21 Japanese Prefectures

We invite the beverage community on Monday, June 17th to taste the incredibly diverse flavors of our sake portfolio. Please email clara@creamwine.com to rsvp. This is a trade only event.

—Seminar (seated; RSVP required): 10-11am
—Portfolio Tasting (walk around): 11:30-2:30pm

Together, with two of the nation’s leading sake importers Wine of Japan and World Sake Imports, we’ve curated a diverse and dynamic Japanese sake portfolio. The portfolio truly offers something for everyone and represents the incredible skill and talent happening in Japan today.

Many of the breweries have a long history, like Sawanoi (founded in 1702) whose current president is the 23rd generation of the Ozawa family to run it. We are pleased to announce that President Mikio Ozawa is coming to our tasting!

In addition to Mikio Ozawa, we have two other special guests: The Sake Ninja Chris Johnson and Sake Esquire Masahiro Takeda. Chris and Masahiro will be hosting the seminar.

The Sake Ninja Chris Johnson:
Chris Johnson is Chris Pearce’s right hand man and represents World Sake Imports in the U.S. World Sake Imports (established in 1998 by Chris Pearce) represents regional sake breweries and shochu distilleries that produce premium beverages. The breweries are among the most respected in Japan; they are standard-bearers for the industry in terms of quality, innovation and technical mastery. Chris Johnson’s accolades include: sake sommelier certified by the Sake Service Institute, member of the board of directors for The Joy of Sake, judge for the U.S. National Sake Appraisal since 2000, Level 3 sake educator certified by WSET, Sake Samurai title earned in 2013.

Sake Esquire Masahiro Takeda:
Third generation Masahiro Takeda is currently the vice president of Wine of Japan (and yes, he is also a lawyer). Established in 1973, Wine of Japan is one of the oldest family owned and operated national importers and distributors of ultra-premium Japanese sake, spirits and beer. With over 42 years of experience, WOJ continues to introduce the best Japan has to offer to an ever-growing audience in the United States. Keeping current with evolving consumer palates, the portfolio is continuously evaluated and curated to ensure that only the most exclusive and select products are offered. Longevity is a testament to WOJ’s expertise, foresight, and unrelenting focus on customer service.

Since 2002, Cream has passionately represented and helped build the category of ginjo sake in Illinois. We are honored to represent this legendary collective. Kampai!


Romagna Pomp & Fizz

Memorial Day weekend had us brainstorming some large format, wine-based cocktails for weekend BBQ’s and beach picnics (or rained out, back up pizza parties). This Lambrusco apertivo is super easy to make and even more refreshing - a total crowd pleaser.

Ingredients:
- 1 bottle of chilled La Fogarina Lambrusco
- 12oz Bordiga Aperitivo
- 8oz Grapefruit Soda (Regular soda will do)
- Peychauds bitters
- Thinly sliced grapefruit wedges

For parties of one:
- 3oz La Fogarina Labrusco
- 1.5oz Bordiga Apertivo
- 1oz Grapefruit Soda
- 3-4 Dashes Peychauds

Directions: Combine all ingredients with ice in your favorite pitcher. Toss some grapefruit wedges in the pitcher. Give a very delicate stir as to not lose effervescence.

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For the Love of Lambrusco - Alberici 'La Fogarina'

wineman2.gif When it comes to stocking wherever it is that you keep your alcohol, there has been a lot to keep up with this year. In case you haven’t heard, the New York Times declared that the Aperol Spritz is out, canned sparkling is the official drink of festival season 2019, and P!nk, the one with the exclamation point, is making wine (and no, it’s not rosé). But we need to talk to you about one more thing - Lambrusco.

Lambrusco got a bad rep in the States during the 70s and 80s as the bubbly, hangover inducing, near Manischewitz-level of super sweet wine. But like a lot of the traditional Italian recipes we have borrowed, fried and re-packaged, real Lambrusco is a far cry from where it wound up by the early aughts. Traditionally made Lambruscos are typically vinified Metodo Classico, fermented first in steel tanks and then again in the bottle. The resulting wines are more polished; they are dry and fizzy, acidic and dark hued. Served best with a chill, these classic Lambruscos have all of the refreshing qualities of dry rosé and sparkling whites with all of the tannins of your favorite reds, making it the perfect pair to your backyard BBQ and charcuterie filled cheese plates.

Looking for great Lambrusco? Meet the Alberici’s. The Alberici’s 10 hectares of vines grow on the Po River floodplains of Reggio Emilia, in a small village just outside of Gualtieri. Well-kept rows of Lambrusco, Chardonnay and Fogarina cover the estate, waiting to be crafted into delicious frizzante wines by Amilcare and his wife Daniela. From pruning to cellar work, everything is done naturally on the vineyard - the couple’s shared passion for the land and cycle of life guide their holistic approach to winemaking. Amilcare learned everything he knows from his father Dino, who he joined in the fields and cellar from a young age, and today, he is passing down that knowledge to his two children, Arianna and Alessio, who represent the third generation to steward the land.

Alberici NV ‘La Fogarina’ Lambrusco dell’Emilia Rosso IGP
So if we can still instill one more takeaway of Summer 2019 (before it stops raining and officially starts in Chicago), it’s that Lambrusco can be good, and that good stuff can be great, and Alberici’s Fogarina is really, really fantastic. The Alberici’s La Fogarina is 100% Fogarina, an ancient, once popular grapevine of Reggio Emilia that was nearly extinct in the region before being resuscitated by the Alberici family. Amilcare uses the Classico method for La Fogarina; the wine rests in tank from harvest until February or March of the following year, then goes through a slow, natural fermentation in the bottle.

This deep-hued wine makes you feel like every mediocre to bad Lambrusco you’ve had was a lie. Dry with just enough of fizz, La Fogarina shows notes of tart currant, dark berry and a touch of cinnamon, with subtle vegatal qualities in juxtaposition. It tastes like the best boozy rhubarb-berry pie you never have had. BBQs, charcuterie, pasta and pizza - we want to drink this wine all the time.

La Fogarina with some bitters and vermouth? Sounds like we have a new Spritz for the people.

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Vive Le Tigre! Everyday Red for All Summer Long

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 8.48.31 PM.pngJeanne and Olivier Coste - the siblings behind some of your favorite roses - had long been on the hunt for new red wine vineyards in the Languedoc. Their search for superb terroir came to an end in 2018 with the acquisition of Château des Adouzes, 100 acres of old vines and pristine soil in Faugères. Schist is king in the small appellation; the only region of the Languedoc with homogenous terroir throughout. This infertile rock is ideal for grape growing in the Mediterranean climate, forcing roots to dig deep into the fractures of the bedrock, and ultimately protecting them from drought during hot, dry summers. In these vineyards, 70+ year old Carignan, Grenach and Syrah vines flourished under the watchful eye of former winemaker, Jean-Claude Estève, and with 300+ years of winemaking to the Domaine Montrose name, the Coste family were eager to carry on the tradition of this great terroir.

The Carignan, Grenache and Syrah fruit for Le Tigre were all manually harvested before making their way to the cellar. There, whole cluster Carignan grapes were vinified with Carbonic Maceration. During this process, grapes are placed in sealed vats with carbonic dioxide, where natural occuring enzymes convert the sugar into alcohol inside their own skins. The Syrah and Grenache are vinified more traditionally - grapes were destemmed and vatted for 30 days. The three wines were then aged in steel tanks for 12 months before being blended together and bottled at the château.

The bright and complex Le Tigre shows everything there is to love about the popular blend of these three dark skinned grapes. From the Carbonic Carignan comes fresh, fruity acidity and vibrant, deep shades of plum in the glass. Grenache lends it’s reliable hand with a bouquet of dark fruit and blackberries. Finally, the Syrah brings it all home with a finish of spice, tannins and bramble fruits. Earthy but bright, juicy with spice. This everyday red is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat, summer vegetables, and hearty pasta dishes (think lazy Sunday Bolognese! Who doesn’t love a tiger on their wine?

Château des Adouzes 2016 ‘Le Tigre’ Faugeres AOC

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