The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: MADRAS

MADRAS, or madras cloth, is a set of colorful plaid patches sown together into one garment made of lightweight cotton. You know the stuff… it’s everywhere these days and with spring and summer around the corner it’s a perfect no brainer for your summer lineup.

I have to be honest. I didn’t always get madras, I thought it was tacky, stupid, and just plain retarded (that comment is not directed towards Sarah Palin). I have dim memories of my grandfather taking me to the park wearing ankle-high white socks with madras shorts—and for a long time this has been my take on it: stuff old people wear.

But this is 2010, and stuff old people wear (or wore) is hot, trendy, and all the rage. Clothiers are offering such oddities (they would have been impossible to find a mere four years ago) such as sock garters, collar stays and braces (suspenders) of all colors and persuasions.

So why not madras?

The move to make madras cool in the mainstream and in main-street started in earnest some four to five years ago when the New England-preppy look filtered down from somewhere around the Kennedy compound in Cape Cod to the shops of New York City and Miami via Gap, Abrercrombie & Fitch and J.Crew. At that time most madras items limited themselves to shorts and the occasional trousers but not too long after that Ralph Lauren had a lauded madras attack on the runway and madras became cool, very cool. But better yet, madras is cool to wear, and by this I mean comfortable.

A lightweight pair of madras shorts, or pants for that matter, are rarely lined thus making wearing a pair no unlike going ‘mando. Honestly, they’re very comfortable. But, in truth, why wear madras? Why not? You wear madras for the very same reason you paint your face in preparation for your football team’s big game, or for the same reason you bedazzle the outside of your house (or your window pane) in colorful small lights around December, or why you choose to get really drunk and light up fireworks at New Year’s: because you can.

And it is because you can there are myriad of silly thing that we can wear in the summer that make it fun (yes, more fun than the beach). In this realm there exists things like linen, brightly colored pants, seersucker, gingham shorts, and white (lots of it without looking like a gigolo). That’s the whole point, “cuz you can.”

The Key to Madras: Confidence

Like so many things in “fashion” (or like so many things in life) half of being able to pull it off is confidence. So if you’re new to madras start slow—do not make your first attempt a madras suit, or you will look like a clown, come to think of it no one should ever, ever, wear a full madras suit. Start with a pair of shorts. This is easy—wear with a white shirt or polo shirt. Madras has enough color, so I would advice the following: always wear a madras piece in contrast with solids, i.e. a madras jacket with white pants and a light colored polo. Play off the smaller colors of the madras, the yellows, blues etc. If you’re the squeamish type no worries, a madras tie can look good with as conservative as a look as white pants and navy blazer. Experiment, and do it and if anyone asks you why you’re wearing madras tell him or her “…because I can…”


The Mistake: Way too much madras!

Madras pieces and Looks for the Beginner…

  • Ties

  • Pants & Jackets

The Leap: Trousers with Seersucker (notice a plain white shirt)

Leap Two: The madras Jacket (note the confidence...)

  • The Look…

TGG Celebrates Spring/Summer 2012

The Summer Gentlemen (from the Sartorialist)

SPRING/SUMMER  is, well, almost here. Summer, named after the old Norse God Sumar, is not merely a season, but an opportunity for other than the obvious (re: barbecues, beaches, pool, scantily-clad women, and guys if that’s your digs) is a change from the ordinary, from the usual, from the monotony of the ubiquity of the days preceding it. Ritual makes the ordinary divine and small, often meaningless, symbolic gesture from, in this case, one season to another helsp to ward off apoptosis, in toher ways, it’s a restart button. The same way a haircut is ,or shaving after a few days, or new Years for that matte.r It is a feeling and an act of renewal .

Miami has a temperate two-season year “Hot and Humid as Hell” (May-September) and “Hot and Mild” (October-April) with a very wet summer. But nevertheless, on what may seem as grotesque affectation, every October or so I would pack up all my “summer clothes” fold the linen pants, shelve the white shoes, and pack it all up, label it summer, and not open it again until the following May. Was this absolutely necessary? No, not really. But it did help create a habit and eventually a ritual, which made me look forward the passing of time and aware of the evolution of each year. Every year I opened my box again and you think “Oh shit! I love this shirt… sweet; oh and this, I forgot I had this!”

Seems lame, I know, but try it.

So yes, put all that shit away; take all the flannel, dark browns, blacks, cashmere sweaters, chunky shoes, dark trainers, velour track suit (if you have one, burn it) put them in a box and put them away. Venture out for summer; try it the Italian way; shades of pastel normally left for Easter eggs splashed on everything from pants to sweaters and belts and claim to the world; the sun is out, its summer and I’m not afraid to celebrate it. Of course, say this in your head.


First day of Spring 2012: March 20th 2012

First day of summer 2010:  June 20th 2010

THE Young Gentlemen’s Guide presents a five-part series on things to celebrate this summer; from drinks, to books, looks, food and life to try, see, drink, experience and love as the temperatures rise, the snow melts and the days meander to longer and longer hours.



In no general order of appearance:



The Pour

IF there are such things as ‘winter wines’ (and there are: think gamey Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas from France’s Rhone, for example) then there are definitely “Spring wines” that can offer a bit more body and complexity than the lemony-crisp whites of summer whilst still offering up a wine that can go from a 80F day to a 55F evening: Viognier anyone?


The Smells...

SAME as above: winter fragrances (myrrh, amber,  and brown spices) = existence of spring fragrances. In truth a single fragrance for 3 months may seem silly (not to us of course) but in the spirit of practicality we bring you three new fragrances that can tackle the spirit of spring (meyer lemon blossoms and white pepper) to the warmth of summer (aquatic notes and citrus).


The Spring Tonic

SUMMER is the realm of Aperol Spritzes and Pisco Sours but what happens before that and after all the past winter’s Brandy Alexanders? Explore with us three great Spring cocktails.


The Spring's Shelter

WHAT more can we say? There’s no such thing as a summer jacket (well, sure there is but…) Think deconstructed linen. Good stuff. We’ll share our picks for the season.

5. MAN-CAN-COOL: Farm to table

The Season's Bounty

Spring is farmer’s market time… three simple dishes any man can make.

The Almanac of What a Man Needs to Know: Packing for a Short Trip

ONE of a Gentleman’s biggest “faux pas” is his inability to appropriately pack. Let us define this. Most men don’t pack well, for a personal or business trip because they:

The Archetype

a) Overpack

b) Underpack

c) Overstuff

d) Throw in a bag a bunch of clothes that don’t make sense (let’s see, three days; one pair of pleated khakis, a brown belt, white socks, black shoes or sneakers, a couple random shirts and maybe a pair of two of underwear.)

This is not how it’s done.

Men need to learn what women have known for years ‘pack by outfit’. Ok, most men cringe at the word “outfit” so how about “look” or “getup”? Throwing random shit in a bag makes the Young Gentleman and Older Statesman alike look, well, random and schleppy. Ergo, there are lessons to be learned here:

1) Pack for the days you’ll be abroad and remember, most hotels have laundry service- whether business or pleasure:

4- day trip? To pack:

  • Button-down shirts: (3-4), keep them simple: white (2), blue, blue striped (1) and something else.
  • Polo shirt : (1) if you’ll have any  downtime, a Polo is also the best thing to wear during flights.
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of pants (be it khakis or the ever-versatile grey trousers)
  • A belt (brown shoes on the trip= brown belt / black shoes on the trip= black belt, oh and forgo the kahkis in this case).
  • A blue blazer/jacket (because you can throw it on anything and you look like a million bucks…)
  • Brown shoes (loafers= easy to take on or off, on the plane, on the security line, or when you get back to the hotel).
  • A v-necks weater: it always gets cold on planes, of course, if it’s not cold where you’re going you may want to replace this with shorts.

Seems simple, but this is enough for any man, from sartorially-shy to unabashed dandy. So, how may outfits… er… getups do we have?

Have a business meeting? Pull together the white button-down shirt, the blue blazer, grey trousers, and the brown shoes= cool, comfortable, but appropriate. Going out to dinner at night? Slip on a pair of jeans and keep the jacket and shirt. More laid back? Simple, just pull-on the sweater and leave the jacket at the hotel. The next day, same place, more meetings- alternate the khakis this time with the sweater if you wore the jacket the previous day.

The Simple Look

It must be said that most of this needs to be disregarded if one’s business requires a suit, in which case a navy suit is best and a simple addition (ie. The trousers) to the list; keep the brown shoes, they make a stylish statement.

If the week calls for a  vacation in Bali- then forgo the above a couple of board shorts, some linen, espadrilles or flip-flops and a light cotton jacket is all you need.


Things to keep in mind to really make it work:

  • Buy travel-size versions of your ‘man stuff’ I.e. deodorant, shaving creams, shampoo etc. It’ll save a ton of space.
  • Keep the jacket single breast, single button, and slim (even if you’re not). Ditto with the pants, cuff them if you must.
  • On the loafers: if you’re chunky and have medium to small feet (or just the latter) forgo boxy shoes and at all costs, at least for now, pass on anything resembling tassles or pennies.
  • Hang-up the shirts as soon as you get to the hotel and maybe give them the old “run the hot-shower” steam treatment when you get in; you can also opt for ‘wrinkle-free’ which is not just for LL.Bean nuts… look for the “non-iron” line from Brook’s Brothers.
  • Fold socks and underwear inside your shoes; you’ll save a lot of space.

What you need to know: Pairing Food and Wine

Fear not!- TGG is not turning into a Perfume Blog!

Food and Wine, some pairing are meant to be…




The Pour: Beef and Reds

There is nothing more deliciously satisfying than eating fried snacks, whether fish and chips or pakoras, with a nice cold beer. The effervescence of the beer lifts the fat off the palate and refreshes the taste buds between every crispy, succulent bite. But this is not “pairing” not in the classical way. There is a difference between chasing a particular with food that happens to be nice (like beer with nearly everything, or sparkling water for that matter) and ‘matching’ in its pure form. For our purposes here we will define ‘matching’ or ‘pairing’ to the extraordinary effect that proper coupling has on the liquid being imbibed with the food it is being eaten with and visa versa; in English: the wine makes the food taste better and the food makes the wine taste better. The key word here is ‘better’ as opposed to ‘different’; a mouthful of fresh chilies (or anything Thai for that matter) followed by a tannic Cabernet Sauvignon or  Bordeaux will certainly make both of them different, but in a very awful, acrid way (actually the capsaicin in the chili, the actual compound which makes them spicy, reacts chemically with astringent tannins inherently in big red wines to produce a taste and sensation in the mouth unlike sucking on metal or chewing on aluminum foil).

Paring is an art form, not a science and while some people do it well, few, pros included, do it exceptionally well. The difference between a good pairing and a great pairing can be the absence or presence of a mild religious experience; but few ever reach it. Attempts, have of course, been made to reach a formulaic concensus: ‘white wines with white meat and red wines with red…’ and so on. These are handy and a great starting point, but what happens when chicken (a white meat) is char-roated in a tandoor giving it a slight smokiness that is enlivned by masala? Sure some whites will do well (buttery chardonnay or big Alsatian pinot gris), but some reds are better apt to tackle the heartiness of a murg tikka (petit syrah, shiraz, zinfandel, Grenache etc). What happens when the meat in question, whether beef or otherwise, is simply cooked and tossed with coriander, lime juice, freshly sliced onions, fish sauce and a hint of chilies? The inherent wualities of a red wine would clash unabashedly, like a joke in a funeral, with the acidity of the lime juice and the overall ‘green’ flavours of the coriander- this is white wine terrirtoy all the way (Gruner Veltliner, Australian Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, white Bordeaux, qurily Italian whites et al.)

For every rule there is an exception, especially in wine, nothing is solidly black or white, but shades of grey. There are, of course, a couple tricks to keep in mind:

The geography rule

Like with like:  the terroir-food principle

Sancerre is a small village on the east- of the Loire river in eastern France. Fourteen villages are allowed to make the wine labeled as Sancerre and always if white, only made from Sauvignon Blanc. One of those villages happens to be the village of Chavignol, home of the world famous hockey puck-shaped goat cheese; crottin du chavignol. The food grew up around the traditional flavours of the sorrounding areas wine culture and, conversely the wine was made within the context of the prevailing food culture and its flavours. Which is to say that there is no better pairing in the world than a buful Crottin du Chavignol with a steely and flinty Sancerre. Of course this can be extended to say that Sauvigon Blancs do very well with goat cheese overall; no matter where the cheese or the saivnong blanc are from.  What is the best wine with a tuscan steak? Tuscan wine. What does one best pair with Shnitzel and kndoel? German wine, etc. In Alsace the diet conisits of mostly sausages, saur kraut and foie gras, the wine pair, naturally, seamlessly.

Context of where the wine is from and the sorrounding food will tell you most of what you need to know about a successful pairing or at least which elements the wines go best with.

The minefield

Zero-in on the dominant flavors

Indian cuisine is characterized by its complex and layered flavours, in short, there’s a lot happening. The same goes true of many cuisines in Asia, Latin America, and the Carribean. It is futile to then try and compliment all the various flavours to the wine with 100% accuracy; instead focus on the dish’s dominant flavor. If the dominant flavor is the char from the grill then match the wine to that. If the dominant flvor is tomato, then match the wine to that- this will yield a much higher degree of success.

The pink truth

Pink with Pink

Shrimp, roast beef sandwiches,  and certain sushi and sahimi (think salmon and hamachi) is betuiful with dry rose.

The Meursault + sandwich

The simple vs. complex rule

If the food is very complex and incredibly multi-layered choose a simpler wine. If the dish is rather simple with one or two dominant flavours then the wine should be multi-layered, expressive and complex; otherwise both compete and none win.

Think a buttery, deep, profound and ethereal chardonnay with a biryanni or a simple, but delicious, fruity and spice-laden red Zinfandel or Shiraz with a tandoori raan.

The Decision


Compliment before contrast

It is easier to compliment the wine wih the food than to contrast it, although contrasting yields the greatest pleasure. If the dish has citrus flavors then the wine should too (think sauvignon blanc). If the wine has hints of cinnamon and gamyness in the nose, then the food should to (think lamb). A contrast is a much harder manouvre and definalty fraught with risk but worth if done right (a chardonnay with mushroom risotto).

The Exception

Wine enemies with food

There are just certain things in food, whether they are compunds enzymes or otherwise which have a negative effect ont eh taste of wine; there are things you just can’t pair (kind of) and you just need to accept it. Wine enemies are things like artichokes, asparagus, excessive acidity ( Salad? Forget) it!, chilies, and sweetness (like dessert; dessert wines being the exception, but here, the wine needs to be sweeter than dessert for it to work).

There is only one wine in the world that can tackle artichokes, asparagus and chilies without a problem, and that is the darling of the moment, dry fino or manzanilla sherry.

The trick

The Chili conundrum

The enemy: capsaicin. There is no getting around this (sort of). The dicsion for me is made at the onset (especially when I’m in South-East Asia) either a) eat spicy and love it or b) have it mild and enjoy wine with it, otherwise the local beer will suffice. Chilies, black pepeer etcetera reach with the tannins of red wine often making the wine taste metallic and the food even spicier. There are evry few instances where the world can meet happliyl (see my note about tandoori raan with Shiraz or Zinfandel) and the trick here is “perceptual sweetness”; or,in other words frutiniess. If you absiluty must ead very very spicy and insist on drinking wine with it then opt for wines whoch are fruitier and off-dry to sweet. The sweetness balances out the chilies. A sauternes (the sweet wine from the southern region of Bordeaux in France can be wonderful with very spicy food (believe it or not) and the chilis make the wine less sweet. But no matter what, chili and drink at your own risk

The unlikely


Remember, if at first you fail, try and try again. One of my most wonderful food and wine memories was in New Delhi with the  indomitable local wine personality, Sanjay Menon at Dumpukht restaurant at the Hyatt orderig dish after dish surrounded by nearly a dozen bottles of wine; from super-Tuscans to obscure Spanish wines… and the wines paring were great! Burmese lobster bisque? Madeira. Butter chicken? HUGE Chardonnay or a Clos Coulee de la Serrant (an odd little wine the Loire Valley’s famous Nicolas Joly). French fries? Champagne! The sky is the limit.

The hunch

Follow you palate.

In everything, whether a novie or an expert, your palate will let you know whether you have landed on liquid gold, or liquid lead. Trust yourself, you palate is your guide and will seldom let you down. At the end of the day it does not matter what I say, or what any of the world’s selfrighout wine exprts purport to know. What matters is that you like it. So if you want to eat fried chilies with a bottle of Cheval Blanc, be my guest, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

MY favourite pairings

Hot and salty French Fries
Champagne, poreffarbly Krug, Jaquesson or anything iwht a bit more body.
Spicy Tuna Roll
Rose d’Anjou or Tavel or any other um, masculine, dry rose.
Chicken Tikka
Big new world chardonnay; Calfornia or Australia
Syrah, shiraz, Grenache, or Zinfandel
Life Champagne, for everything, always champagne

The Almanac of What the Modern Man Needs to Know: The Fuente Anejo #48

Many Fuente enthusiasts are thrown in ecstasy when they come across the highly desirable Opus X. Indeed, the Opus X has attained somewhat of a cult following in the cigar community. The ability to carry the Opus X is occasionally viewed as mark of excellence for cigar dealers.

The House

by: Richard Urban

NEEDLESS to say that i was very excited when  I smoked my first Opus X several years ago. Sadly,  I was left disappointed and thus continued my search for the perfect celebration cigar. Alas, I found said cigar in a lesser known offering from the venerable Arturo Fuente house. Some readers may remember that I mentioned in my previous column that I was devotee of the Anejo line. The cigars in this line from Fuente are some of the scarcest in the world. If the Opus X represents gold to the premium cigar smoker than the Anejo must represent platinum.

The quest for the Anejo is often an elusive one. Very few stores actually carry offerings from this line. Indeed, some retailers proudly claim it is the rarest cigar in the world. Fuente releases Anejos only around Father’s Day and Christmas in minute quantities. When one does find an Anejo, there is usually a strict three cigar per customer limit and an overly-inflated price. The retail price from Fuente is between $9.00 and $12.00 in the U.S. (depending on size) but it is not unheard of to see a price of $30.00 or more in cigar shops nation-wide.

The Goods

The Anejo No. 48 represents the epitome of luxury. Many of its components are secret, though it is believed to include blends used in the Opus X, Don Carlos, and Hemingway lines. Once it has been rolled it is aged in cognac barrels. I had the rare pleasure of being permitted to purchase a box of these rarities from a local dealer two years ago. Since that time I have smoked them only on special occasions.

The Test Drive

The first thing one notices about the Anejo is the presentation. A cedar wrapper encases the cigar with a red felt wrapper holding it all in place.

The Smoke

Upon lighting the cigar, one is greeted with aromatic delight. A combination of earthy, chocolate, and cognac scents provide the nostrils with a delightful experience. A small soft draw is all that is needed to keep this cigar light, allowing for a relaxed meditation. Immediately apparent is the flavor is the light scents of cedar interspersed with hints of spice. As it continues, the flavor of cognac is apparent but not overpowering. If one pays close attention, a hint of chocolate can be detected.

Another unique characteristic of the Anejo is the scent it produces. A friend of mine, who does not share my enthusiasm for cigars, once remarked that cigars smell wonderful until lit. The Anejo, however, seems to only get better as one smokes it. The aroma of flowers, cedar, and cognac is combined to produce an enjoyable bouquet [haters not withstanding].

The Experience

There is only one drawback when it comes to the Anejo; the fluctuating and always high price. As a result the Anejo is a cigar meant for special occasions. It is the Dom Perignon of cigars. Perfect for celebrating the purchase of your first sports-car or the post wedding conversation with your new father in law.

Richard Urban has been smoking fine cigars since he turned 18 and at any given night can be found in Union Cigar Club in Pennsylvania. Richard runs a rare book store and currently attends Gettysburg College.

Man like Shoes…

Real men like shoes. Real men care what’s on their feet, and why shoult he? He’s on his feet most of them time.

Men at Work

Ask a woman what she looks at on a man first?

Answer: Shoes.

The derby with attitude...

We like: Cole Rood and Haan; Cole-Haan’s new Grandpa Cool line of shoes.

The man's boot

Bespoke Life: 1983 Brandy by Domaine Charbay

There is nothing like the “art and lore” of brandy distilling and more you pay, the more refined & honest the spirit… one would hope. And that brandy should have a story.

The Perfect Drink

THERE’Sbrandy‘ and then there’s Brandy. Made from the distillate of wine and then aged in oak (where it gets its amber color), Brandy (and it’s cousins, Cognac and Armagnac, made in region of the same name in France)  is all to often overly-processed, artificially colored and drastically underwheling.

Enter the Karakasevic family, from a long line of master distillers, who settled in the ‘highlands’ of Spring Mountain in Northern California to churn out some of America’s most unique and cherished spirits.

This brandy was hand-distilled by Miles Karakasevic (Madter Distiller) andfrom a base wine of ‘Folle Blance” then aged in Oak Barrels from Limousin France for an unfettered clarity and an almost incomprehensivble complexity.

Top notes of mulling spices with caramael and a tlight floral toast with a dollop of blood orange marmaled. In essence: this stuff is good!

Distiller’s Notes: “Launching the Brandy program in 1983 with a 1,000 gallon Pruhlo Alambic was a long term commitment to distilling in California. I wanted our brandy to reflect my heritage of hand distilling.  Little did I know that we would distill so many spirits in between but I was determined that the premiere would be how I envisioned it should be: full bodied and elegant.  That my son apprenticed by my side and learned to distill whiskey, rum, pastis, flavored vodkas and more while the brandy aged…well, that’s how my people carry on. For me, distilling isn’t a business; it’s a way of life.

— Miles Karakasevic


About Charbay Brandy N0. 83:

“The most interesting thing I tried at WhiskyFest was a brandy of all things. Tasted like what I imagine a Christmas rum raisin cake tastes like; juicy allspice…” Camper English/SF /WhiskeyFest

100 cases made of 750ml and 95 cases of 375ml. Get it at

Champagne Revisited

The Lady

I refused to believe that champagne was a myth,” she said, pressing a beautiful Riedel ‘grand cru’ champagne stem, the kind that looks more like a fishbowl-cum-wine glass than one made for fizz, to her pouty and elegant lips. “For me it had to be, it [champagne] must always be… a wine.” She should know, her name is Beatrice Cointreau (yes that Cointreau) but more recently she heads up the boutique house of Champagne Gosset.

Champagne is as misunderstood as Michael Jackson, and rightly so. To begin with we’ve come to know champagne (and here I make the distinction between Champagne, the place, and champagne the wine) as a “conceptual” thing; a wine with bubbles. We know champagne as the wine to celebrate special occasions (New Year’s or a new dress), impress a hopeful mate (a.k.a. nail the deal), or coyly sip before the ‘real’ stuff comes out, because beer is too crass at the stuffy party you’re at. Occasionally, at some trendy apartment or café, one stumbles on classic ‘vintage’ posters that pictures a svelte woman, in what is surely a black Chanel dress, while above her floats the header: “l’Istance Taittinger.” For others, bubbly conjures the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe prancing around with a bottle of Moet & Chandon. This is what champagne is to most of us; glamorous, slightly dandy, yet always celebratory. This is what, I believe, Madame Cointreau meant by the ‘myth’ of champagne.

Ask most wine lovers to tell you a bit about champagne, the drink, after all comes complete with its own creation myth: Once upon a time there was a monk named Dom Perignon who worked and toiled at all hours of the day and night confined to a medieval monastery in the tiny and equally medieval village of Hautvillers. One glorious spring morning the brothers fetched monsieur Perignon, apparently every single bottle in their cellars had spontaneously exploded. Every single bottle… But one. Exasperated the Dom opened it and took his first sip of the now bubbly wine (the “first ever”) and is said to have exclaimed “Come, come brothers, I’m drinking stars!”

This legend was carefully crafted in the 20th century by the trade commission put together after World War II to promote the stuff, but like many other things, was taken as gospel. To this day a regal statue of the monk stands outside of Moet et Chandon’s headquarters in Epernay, and the former monastery where Dom Perignon resided in Hautvillers (where he, in fact, worked diligently to get the bubbles out of the red wine produced there during his time) is now a museum.

And yet few people, if any, talk about the real Champagne… as in the eponymous place which actually gave the stuff its name. Perhaps it is because the story of the real Champagne, the place, dotted with gothic hamlets and two-street villages is not fancy enough in this age of single origin coffees, minimalist-chic hotels, Karl Lagerfeld and impossibly named teas. In contrast Champagne, the place, is simple, serene, a utilitarian landscape of vines speckled with little villages, surrounded by vines. The monotony of green grape-leaves and dark brown trunks serve as a severe contrast to the ivory white of the region’s chalky soil that makes champagne and Champagne so unique. It is in fact this anomaly (the chalk) area’s chalky soil, which insulates the vines and protects them from wild swings in the climate. It also radiates the sun’s warmth and light back unto the grapes and keeping them cozy in this north most wine growing region which is, incidentally, very cold. In fact Champagne and northern Canada share the same latitude, if it wasn’t for the slopes which weave through the regions terrain, and the snow-white deep-seated chalk which makes up its foundations, Champagne would be much too cold to grow grapes at all.

To say “Champagne” is like referring to the “hill stations of India” a region with a myriad of towns and peoples. Irrefutably the capital of Champagne is Reims. Reims (pronounced Re-hsse), with the backdrop of the rest of the region in mind, is big and modern by comparison. Only a 45minute ride from Paris’ ghastly Garre du Nord put me in the thick of a city, whose entire preoccupation is bubbly wine. Underneath the city run infinite mazes of caves called crayères, cut-into a bedrock of chalk, where the wines gain their magical effervescent and age. On top, Reims is bustling, the streets wide and lined with ornate creamy limestone buildings, somewhat reminiscent of Paris with a little bit of Bordeaux functionality, glow a pastel amber in the soupy sunlight of dawn. The Rue Jean d’Arc is a particular popular location with cafes, brasseries, and boutiques which range from an épicerie to a Chanel. Around the corner on Rue Bourriet is the ultra modern Hotel de La Paix, whose chic rooms accented with warm dark woods and fine lines, is more evocative of Barcelona and Miami than of Champagne (the place).

All of champagne is made with only three grapes deemed ‘noble’ enough to make the stuff. The trio is made up of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (yes, a red grape!) and the less revered Pinot Meunier (another red grape). Unless the champagne states clearly that it is either a Blanc de Blancs (and therefore entirely chardonnay) or a Blance de Noirs (entirely red grapes) then the wine, clear or otherwise is, traditionally, a blend of all three grapes. Chardonnay for elegance and grace, pinot noir for body and mystique and pinot meunier for bouquet and breadth, at least that’s the old adage.

In the sleepy Reims mornings, on the corner of the rues Bourriet and Jean d’Arc, a portly man with an omnipresent grimace sets up shop on a small metal and cement kiosk. There, in front of him, on shaved ice, is a glistening array of fresh oysters, mussels and fish. One of the best pairings with the area’s wines, and possibly the simplest in the universe, is a beautiful fresh oyster (skip the cocktail sauce) and a glass of Blanc de Blancs.

Blanc de Blancs is possibly the raciest and sexiest styles of champagne. Blanc de Blancs literally translates into white from whites and therefore purely made up of gorgeous chardonnay. Chardonnay in Champagne is different than the oaky buttery stuff from California and the New World, in fact it is closer to Chablis in style and weight. It’s cold in Champagne and the chardonnay, picked almost green, keeps all of its natural nervy acidity which is typically overran with oak and sun in the rest of the world. The resulting wine sings a high falsetto (as opposed to the tenor of Australian Chardonnay). Blanc de Blancs are complex with a nice light body yet very crisp and lacks any sort of “yeastiness” that turns some people off bubbly. This delicateness is what makes it ideal as an aperitif as well as making a perfect pairing with simpler foods such as briny oysters, even sushi, or anything fried.

Another very different style, which still verges on the exotic for most, is the venerable Blanc de Noirs, literally white from black. The color in a grape is only skin-deep; if the berries are squeezed and not allow to sit on their skins the resulting juice is pure white, while still retaining the grape’s signature deep aromas. Here one can go three ways: purely pinot noir, only or a blend of both. This style of champagne, deep and broody with aromas that can range from dried rose petals to figs in white chocolate, is one of the most intoxicating. They should not be drunk too cold, but closer c to ellar temperature (12-15C) and opened a few minutes before drinking. People freak out when they see me decanting a bottle of champagne. I have had many people look at me with that pitying face as they ask themselves “… what is that boy doing?” Yes, many are mystified and some outright horrified by my custom of decanting certain choice champagnes! I discovered the art of decanting champagnes in Champagne! Before the discovery of riddling, whereby the sediment of the second fermentation in the bottle is removed, champagne was decanted to separate it from the harmless but unsightly cloudy mass of yeast that would sink and stick to the bottom of the bottle. Back then, champagne (the wine) was much different that what it is now, most would not recognize it by tasting it. Before the onslaught of stainless steel fermenters and oceans of over-priced generic big-brand champagne the wines for champagne were aged in oak and heavy with Pinot Noir, yielding wines of great intensity which like any other white wine (like Grand Cru Burgundy, California Chardonnay and some white Riojas) needed to breathe a little and shake-off some of that bottle fatigue before it blossoms into the beautiful wine you paid for. Blanc de Noirs is good with richer foods; Lobster, Foie Gras, and even some kebabs to add an extra kick in.

My top five reccomendations that will redefine champagne:

  • Tarlant “Cuvée Louis” (Blanc de Noir)

  • Aubry Brut Rosé

  • Vilmart  & Cie “Cuvée Creation”

  • Francoise-Bedel “Cuvée entre Ciel et Terre”

  • Krug Clos de Mesnil

The 2011 Gift Roundup!

Well…It’s that time of year again  and if you haven’t rounded up gifts for those special people on your life, then you’re in trouble!

THAT of course does not apply to you, dear reader, you have us, and we at TGG have rounded up a list of fail-safe gifts for either a) that special gentleman in your life (ladies) or b) a young Gentlemen’s father, brother, or bosss…

Read on…


Gentleman’s hint: these gifts work well for the other Gentlemen in a Young Gentlemen’s life…


For Him

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Tourbillon

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Tourbillon

The Watch

From our friends at Gentlemen’s Gadgets

Suit fits like a second skin, shoes are polished perfectly, shirt’s dazzling white, well then there’s an a definite need for an adequate timekeeper to complete the package. Jaquet Droz presents their latest watch, the Grande Seconde Tourbillon, which displays a loud elegance including an astonishing tourbillon carriage crafted from sapphire crystal. The case is made from 18kt gold and measures 43mm, the dial exhibits Grand Feu enamel, and the caliber is a Swiss automatic Jaquet Droz in-house caliber 25JD with 31 jewels, 21.600 vph and a power reserve of 7 days.

A scent to bring that special someone near:


The Fragrance

From our friends at Aedes de Venustas NYC:

In all of its precious form Oudh is effortlessly felt throughout the fragrance. Woven with bergamot and orange its fresh top notes unfold, assertively layered with woody and resinous power. Ozonic floralcy lives at the heart as a mystical rose unveils warmed ambered stones. An eccentric chypre character exhales narcotic fumes with an intense signature of leather wrapped in lucid white musk…

It is a potion, a rare elixir that will lead to exalted ecstasy and pure euphoria.

[What?! – it’s smells good that’s what…]-TGG

TOP NOTES: Oud, Bergamot, Aldehyde

MIDDLE NOTES: Rose, oud, amber

BASE NOTES: Oud, civet, leather, patchouli.


buy here


A Grown Man’s Duffle Bag from T.Anthony


From our friends at T.Anthony:

With luxurious leather detailing our stylish canvas and leather carry on is ideal for shorter trips or weekend getaways. Lightweight and spacious, it has a removable shoulder strap and two interior zip pockets. This duffle is a customer favorite and a perfect gift item for travelers of any kind. 22” x 12” x 11”

[PS- they put your initials on it too… if that’s not enough you actually are carrying something distinctive and distinguished – not a tattered all cheap suitcase. If you want an “wheeled duffle” option check one out here]

The Cigar: Torano Single Region Jalapa Serie

The Smoke

From our friends at

The word terroir means “land” in French, but it is most commonly used in the wine trade to indicate the qualities that are imparted to grapes by the growing environment. This basically comes down to soil quality and weather, both of which have a tremendous impact on the quality of the fruit.

The same thing goes for tobacco (and coffee, and probably all agricultural products.) Tobacco is a resilient plant that will grow almost anywhere, but black tobacco suitable for cigar making is much more finicky and is in many ways sensitive to the terroir. A tobacco grower does everything he can to produce the ideal conditions that will result in the type of leaf he wants –  from buttressing the soil with minerals and fertilizers to shading the plants with cloth to create a lighter shade of wrapper leaf.

Cigar blends usually incorporate leaves from several different regions to create a balance of the best qualities of each region. As an example (maybe not a great one), piloto cubano from the Dominican Republic might be used for spice, combined with a milder volado leaf to promote an even burn; a broadleaf binder from Connecticut might be used to give it a round leathery taste, and it might be finished off with a maduro wrapper from the San Andres Valley of Mexico for a chocolatey sweetness. It would be unusual to find tobacco with all of those qualities in one region, let alone one farm.

But that is exactly what the Toraño family has done with its Single Region release. Part of the reason they are able to do this is because it’s a hell of a region — the Jalapa Valley of Northern Nicaragua is one of the most fertile and productive places to grow cigar tobacco outside of Cuba. The Jalapa Valley is known for the sweetness and rich flavor of its tobacco, and is sometimes contrasted with tobacco from Esteli, which tends to be sharper and stronger.

All of the tobaccos in the Toraño’s Single Region come from one farm called El Estero after a stream that runs through the farm.

To buy: Ask you local tobacconist.



Tequila dressed as Cognac: Don Julio 1942

The Drink

A tribute tequila of astonishing depth, Tequila Don Julio 1942 (a limited-edition tequila) is best appreciated when served in a snifter.

The luxury tequila of choice in Mexico, Tequila Don Julio uses only the choicest, fully matured and ripened blue agave hand- selected from the rich, clay soils of the Los Altos region.

In commemoration of Don Julio’s 60th anniversary of producing the highest quality tequila, Tequila Don Julio 1942 was born. Using a personal selection of prime agave, Don Julio created this unique batch of tequila aged for at least two and a half years in American white oak barrels. Adding even more to its exclusivity, Tequila Don Julio 1942 is made with the distillate in Pot Still 6, which produces only three barrels per cycle.

Color: Deep, bright amber hue with specks of gold; full-bodied.

Nose: Sweet aromas of caramelized cherries and tones of nuts, almonds and chocolate combine with exotic cinnamon and a light essence of oak. The vanilla fragrance is interestingly sweet and enjoyable.

Taste: A silky, smooth character that coats the palate with roasted agave flavors, vanilla, sun-ripened tropical fruits and spiced undertones to create a wonderfully unique tequila experience.

Finish: Beautiful, sweet agave-laced finish with lingering hints of oak and rich vanilla essence; a full-bodied creaminess resulting from distillation and aging

[nuff said] – TGG

FOR the Young Gentlemen with Ladies in his life it is important that such gifts reflect the same class and attention to detail he wishes to embellish on himself.

Ultimately a gift is personal and not all women like champagne and truffles; some may just prefer a vintage cigar with a good bottle of brandy [God bless such women]. Nevertheless The Young Gentlemen’s Guide has rounded up a variety of basics sure to please most Ladies.

As for that ‘special woman’ in a Gentlemen’s life (i.e. not your mother) we always you stick stick to our traditional dictum: some say “…Go big or go home…” with her gift we say “…go bling or go sexy…” [i.e. jewelry or lingerie].

For Mom (grandma, cousin, boss, etc…)

A Box of Serenity: Santa Maria Novella Gift Boxes

The Goods...

From our Friends at Aedes de Venustas:

A beautiful signature Santa Maria Novella gift box filled with the signature Melograno candle, Melograno soap, a small box of potpourri and lemon verbena scented hand cream. Makes a stunning gift for any occasion.

[Guys… trust on this one…]

Buy here

“Happiest of Holiday Box” by John & Kira Chocolates 



The Sweets...

Local, organic, and sustainable… but just as important: handcrafted, top-notch ingredients and utterly delicious. Sure you can get that same old golden box of factory made Belgian stuff, but then again it’s everywhere and that makes it utterly not special. Know what we mean? For the same amount of dough you can go the quality route while repeating to yourself the golden rule “small is beautiful…”

This 28 piece chocolate box is John&Kira’s most classic and popular holiday gift and features all ten of their award winning flavors.

To make them, they infuse real herbs and spices into fresh cream, such as just picked garden mint or fresh young ginger from the island of Molokai in Hawaii. The infused cream is then heated and poured over amazingly complex Valrhona milk or dark chocolate and mixed until a super creamy ganache is achieved. The ganache is then poured into a frame, allowed to set for 48 hours, and cut into one and a quarter inch squares. Finally, each delicate square is enrobed in a thin layer of 62% dark Valrhona chocolate and marked by hand with a fork. The brown and red box is finished with a letter-pressed card announcing “The Happiest of Holidays To You”.

Buy them here

Ok—So, how bout for that very special woman? Go bling or go sexy (or go home!)

Go Bling: Victorian Mine-Cut Diamond Pendant

Victorian Mine-Cut Diamond Pendant

The Bling

Buy here… (don’t say we didn’t warn you– ultimately it’s a direction…)

Go Sexy: Lingerie from Agent Provocateur

Classic Agent Provocateur; the finest pink lace with a black Chantilly lace overlay in a flirtatious floral pattern.

The Classics - Francoise

The Sexy...

 Buy here


The Young Gentlemen’s Guide wishes everyone a Happy Holiday Season!