Archive | June, 2012

Symington Estate Altano Douro 2007

30 Jun

How often do you find a $10 red blend with clout? If you read my wine posts, you know that the best bargains found today in red wine are Portuguese wines from Douro, when the Argentinian Malbecs and Chilean vineyards full of French Cab Suv grapes have been gaining  popularity and as a result, their prices are climbing. The Douro area, famous for port, has become a mecca for phenomenal reds and vino verdes at $10 or under – and when I can find them for $10 in pricey Manhattan wineries, local stores with less overhead may sell them for as little as $7-8/bottle. BARGAIN TIME!

Today’s selection is the Symington Family Estate Altano 2007, made of Tinto Roriz (aka Tempranillo grape) and Touriga Franca grapes. (Please note: The Touriga Franca, aka Touriga Francesa grape is a port wine grape commonly found in Portugal.) This is a lovely blended wine whose nose demonstrates ripe red fruit, tasting of red plum and cherry. A hint of vanilla, oak and earth after the tangy, medium finish, this is a fun wine- its medium body will complement many dishes well. If you haven’t looked into wines from Douro yet- this may be the time, and the wine, to try. It’s a classic example of a great value wine with flexibility.

If you’re still unsure about the concept of Portuguese wines, you can rest easily knowing that these wines have been popular for a long time locally- and only recently have been become popular for export, much like the New Zealand, Chilean and Argentnian wines we find commonplace these days. But  check out their website about their viniculture, sustainable growth structure, and organic wines.

http://www.altano.pt/

à votre santé!

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The Casual Summer BBQ

25 Jun

Some barbecues take themselves very seriously. Not ours. We (my family and our next –door neighbors) try to throw a totally casual barbecue around Memorial Day. This year, our weekend was too busy for most of the families and it took a few weeks to get a cookout together.

Once we finally scheduled the evening it came together quickly.  A few emails assigned who was responsible for what elements. “Will we have enough food?” I ask. They tease me back with “Who will bring the wine?” It shuts me up for a brief moment. I shopped a few days before, and my wife did last minute on the day-of event as I had shows to mix. Suddenly I was back home, taking the cover off the Weber grill and heating it up, grabbing my pre-selected bottles and pulling corks.

My neighbors Gary and Lori are lovely, smart, fun people -like most of our Forest Hills neighborhood. Lori is a great cook and enjoys tasting wine –she’s often my first stop to share a glass when I find something new- and I brought over the tiny remainder of a bottle of Modus Operandi’s Vicarious to taste, as she’d tasted their Petite Syrah with me before. Vicarious is another phenomenal wine made by Jason Moore that is the best of both worlds– a delicious blend in the Bordeaux tradition, with Napa grapes. Deep purple to black in color, stunning dark fruit, bold,  delicious, with a medium to long finish. Very little is made- only 13 barrels of the ‘09- but like any great art, it’s worth going out of your way to experience.

http://moduswines.com/store/item/2009-vicarious.

We ooh’d and aah’d over the wine,
 finishing my bottle as  Lori opened one of her own for me to try: Ripken Vineyards 2005 Late Harvest Viognier, 100% Lodi, a dessert wine. Knowing I had recently served Lori a small glass of the stunning Chateau Climens 1990, I wondered how this would compare, if it could be in the same realm as a Sauternes, if it would be more along the lines of the strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry dessert wines I’ve tasted. No, I was flabbergasted- this was indeed pure Viognier, and tasted so delicious- a golden sunset color, lightly sweet nose, with flavors of honey, beeswax, peaches and apricots and NO flavor of noble rot. This wine, I had to admit, tasted as good a dessert wine as the Chateau Climens on my palate. Lori explained that her sister’s family is part of this vineyard, and I was even more impressed. I plan to buy wines from these folks and see what else they have up their sleeves.

http://ripkenwine.com/html/ripkenwines.html#ripken

After the taste of the Ripken, it was time to grill. I got to work, and took breaks for a moment or two to pour a few glasses as guests arrived. I had three bottles open for the guests in our backyards:

The first and lightest of the three is St. Martin Reserve Chardonnay 2010. I found this Pays D’Oc last summer as a great choice from the South of France, it’s a gently oaked Chardonnay that exudes a fresh, crisp and fruity feel to it with a touch of citrus on the nose. It’s easy drinking and perfect for a hot summer day or people who want something light and fun, not a full-bodied wine. It’s frustrating that a google search reveals nothing about this vineyard, but I can take that in stride: they make solid, enjoyable wines that are affordable. Let them remain off the grid. I get this from Sherry Lehman at around $8 to $9/bottle, and their Cabernet is also well worth getting as both are a great value.

The next wine I opened was the Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvingon 2009 from Colchagua, Chile. This is an estate owned & operated by Baron Eric Rothschild, and this wine is made quite well at a price of a regular vin du table. Served at a dusk cookout, no one notices the label but people recognize a delicious and smooth cab, perfectly crafted with flavors of lush red and black fruit, gentle hint of wood, vanilla, cacao, and great easy balance. Medium bodied, easy to pair with anything. Over the last several years it’s become my standard choice for a daily red (if I ever had such a thing) but a wine I trust implicitly to be a crowd favorite, to pair easily, and to always deliver at below $10/bottle. Who could ask for more?

http://www.lafite.com/eng/Other-Estates/Vina-Los-Vascos/Los-Vascos-Cabernet-Sauvignon

My final wine to serve was Alamos Malbec 2009. From Mendoza, Argentina, this wine is a little more powerful with strong dark fruit, pepper, burnt sugar, and a touch of wood. The spicy response of this wine is perfect for someone who wants a little more kick to their meal and a longer finish.  At $6-8/bottle, it’s a great buy.

http://www.alamoswines.com/en/ourwines/

After several hours of food and great conversation, we wound up our evening with smiles and laughter, heading to our respective homes. Lori shared the last bit of the Ripken Late Harvest Viognier with several small glasses handed out as we said our goodnights. A lovely finish to a great evening with friends, neighbors, and delicious wine.

What’s your favorite wine to serve at a casual cookout?

à votre santé! 

There Are No Rules, There Are Only Possibilities!

23 Jun

I spent much of my teenage youth testing and stretching the rules. If you knew me back then, I’m sorry. If you still like me, then thank you for seeing the pearl in the proverbial oyster. As an adult, I know I’ve learned a lot from the mistakes I’ve made in my life and still have much more to learn. One of the important lessons I learned as a young child is that Our society is full of all kinds of rules. Laws, yes, but I mean social rules. As I got older, I learned that many of the social rules are easily broken, bent, ignored or excused. That is to say, they really don’t matter.

Wine is no different. There are all kinds of rules we learn, and then eventually unlearn as we gain insight and wisdom.

Here are a few hard and fast rules I was taught that I no longer believe:

-Not to refrigerate red wine. (I do it all the time to slow aging or to preserve a delicate red.) By the same token, if I’m drinking a white and it gets warm, I will not hesitate to drop an ice cube or frozen whiskey stone in my glass. Proper serving temperature can make a huge difference, and with whiskey stones, you don’t have to risk diluting your wine with water.

Champagne first! Served before the appetizer as a toast. It’s also lovely with dessert, or between courses, is a great palate cleanser, and the bubbles aid in digestion.

Dessert wine is served after the meal.  It’s actually best with a savory appetizer. Fois gras and Sauternes…need I say more?

The more expensive or rare a wine, the better it is. Maybe, sometimes. And other times, a $15 value bottle can blow away the $$$ really expensive bottle. But the inverse can also be true, and blind tastings have thrown the traditional beliefs out the window.

White wine with fish, red wine with meat. My lovely wife just doesn’t drink red. It aggravates her asthma. I have some friends who don’t care for white wines, and others who don’t care for any wine. Drink what you like, taste and try new things.

The  “aha!” moment that dispelled wine rules happened several years ago. I was working on a design with a close friend who suggested dinner at a lovely restaurant that specialized in Pacific Northwestern Cuisine. The evening special was cedar plank roasted sockeye salmon, and after we ordered it, the waiter highly suggested a Washington State pinot noir to complement the fish. I had carefully planned a Sauvignon Blanc from the list, and my face must have registered shock, as the waiter deftly and demurely suggested that he’d bring us both a taste (gratis) with the main course and then if we liked it, he’d bring either glasses or a bottle. It was my first time trying a red with fish, and it was an amazing pairing, far better than the glass of Sauv Blanc I’d gotten for the salad course. While I’ve long forgotten the name of the pinot noir, I’ve never forgotten the experience of having this rule plainly shattered.  Later on, I searched NY’s finer wine stores near me for the wine. While I never crossed paths with it again, the owners turned me to several lovely Northwestern wines I’d never have even considered prior to this experience.

à votre santé!

Old Coach Road Sauvignon Blanc 2011

20 Jun

If you read my last commentary on the ‘meh’ wine experience, you might enjoy knowing that I recently had not one, not two, but THREE back to back ‘meh’ experiences with new wines. It’s my personal position that I won’t share a “C” wine, even if it’s just a basic vin du table, in the same way I wouldn’t review the neighborhood diner- who wants to hear, “yeah, it’s a meal” or the oenophilic equivalent, ‘it’s drinkable’? Not me!  Ergo, you haven’t seen me mention those wines.

After tasting three ‘meh’ wines in a row, I opened the Old Coach Road Sauvignon Blanc 2011. From Nelson, New Zealand, this is a family owned & operated winery operating since 1975. And I enjoyed it, so I get to share it here!

http://seifried.co.nz/collections/old-coach-road/products/old-coach-road-nelson-sauvignon-blanc-2011

This white wine has a pale straw color and a flowery, citrus-forward nose. On the palate there is a nice balance of green fruit, crisp and tasty, with notes of apple and peach to provide a classic Sauv Blanc with a good balance of acidity and a medium finish. I’ve seen this advertised online for $12/bottle, though the winery website sells it at the list price of $15/bottle. On the lower end of the price scale, it’s a decent table wine that is nice and easy on its own or when paired with summer meals like shellfish, salads, light cheeses, or white meats.

This one is a keeper I can stand behind as a wine that Sauv Blanc lovers will enjoy. It’s a solid B quality vine du table, I wouldn’t hesitate to serve at brunch or for the neighbors in the backyard for a relaxing glass at sunset. While it won’t ever be my first pick for a Sauvignon Blanc and I can find much better values in my local wine stores, I would not turn down a glass of this wine: it is a good example of the light, gentle drinking grape that is easily enjoyed.

Wine Buyer’s Remorse

19 Jun

When you shop for, find, buy and finally open that new wine for the first time, you are expecting and emotionally prepared for a distinct reaction. You go in perhaps hopeful, excited, perhaps even a little giddy. What do you do when your first taste is  disappointing? Obviously if you buy a wine that’s corked (aka tained, spoiled, showing the presence of trichloroanisonle or TCA) you immediately regret it.

But sometimes wine is perfectly not corked, it’s just..mediocre. What can you say when the wine is ‘meh’? Several times in my life I’ve regretted making a purchase. We’re thrilled when a cheap bottle tastes like something much more expensive. But what about when you drop hard earned coin on a supposedly great bottle that’s only OK? I don’t know about you, but it makes me sad!

I recently opened a bottle that was an award-winner, highly rated. My experience was a delicate,  lightly floral nose, and boring palate- watery, some red fruit, acid and tannin but NOT a flavor I wanted to repeat. It is corked or just mediocre?

I asked myself these questions:

1) Proper tasting approach: Did I taste this properly? (Is my palate clean? Am I using neutral judgement?) Maybe it requires more air? A: My palate wasn’t clean, I’d been noshing and drinking an ounce of a wonderfully structured, classic red earlier. I decide to give it air, cleanse my palate and taste it at least two more tastes.

2) Storage: Is this a wine designed to be caved for age and be enjoyed in ten years, or is it meant to be drunk young? Am I drinking this too early, or too late in the life of the vintage? A: It’s an ’07 that should be approachable now.

4) Complementary tasting? Did I pair this with something inappropriate? A: Yes, I had strong flavors on my palate earlier. My gut is the wine is demonstrating TCA or the balance is off- I don’t expect an award-winning wine to taste like this, but I have to try again with a clean palate and a neutral choice (like a water cracker) to see if the reaction is more my fault.

5) Possible Audience:  If its not MY cup of tea, who WOULD like this? A: while the wine might be tainted, it could also be that this wine is just not something that I like. It might pair with very different approach, but I decide to pass on this and re-consider it later.

6) Sales & Marketing: What did they do right in making and marketing this wine? A: The label is classic, attractive Chateau type. Award was clearly displayed on each bottle. Wine was displayed prominently with other solid bordeaux. Good price. The seller knew I’d buy this wine, it’s at a high value price point if I like it.

So after going through this mental process while swirling the wine in the glass to aerate it further, eating a water cracker and drinking a half glass of water, my palate feels cleaner and more open. I smell and taste a second time. Mediocre. Doesn’t taste vinegary, but doesn’t taste like something I want to drink. I deem my palate past neutrality and decide to let the bottle sit and taste again tomorrow. When approaching cleanly, I should know quickly if its tainted or just a mediocre bottle.

Sometimes it’s obvious when you find a corked bottle. Sometimes, like last night, you find a minor mystery.  More often than a corked bottle is when I’ve found something I’m excited about – maybe a rare find or a well-rated wine – and I’m clearly hoping for an astounding experience. But my initial response is “so so.”

So-so, my friends, is a total and complete disappointment.

When I taste a so-so wine, I taste it again, to double check myself. Then I let it rest a bit and see if a little more exposure to air will improve it.

Then I’ll try it with a cracker, a gentle cheese, a robust cheese, and maybe some chocolate. If the wine may improve with food, these are some of the best choices. It’s also easier to keep these foods around your home, instead of fois gras, mushroom terrine, cornichon/raclette cheese/baguette, and chocolate truffles (each of which might pair wonderfully with wines high in acidity, in tannin, in sugar, etc.) Sometimes you’ll find the wine has opened up, or pairs and compliments one of these foods amazingly well.

But other times, you’ll realize that regardless of price or rating, the wine just isn’t what you like.

It’s important to realize at this point, that it’s OK. It’s actually good, because you’re learning what you like and don’t like in wine.

Don’t forget, every season is a new bunch of wines, every season is a new season to live, learn, try and taste.

So…have you experienced my misery? Bringing home a bottle of something you’re really excited about, just to taste it and think … “what’s the fuss about?” I’d love to hear about it!

Chateau Climens Sauternes 1990

18 Jun

Chateau Climens Sauternes 1990

Color of light, golden apricot and nose of botytris, sweet peach and honey. In the mouth again apricot is dominant, with honey, then pineapple, and small flourishes of quince & orange peel. This vintage surpasses the lesser Sauternes and Barsac wines I’ve tasted and also compares quite favorably to the d’Yquems I have experienced. Opening this at 20 and 22 years, I’m thrilled to have tasted this wine- perfection with savory dishes and showing additional note of vanilla when paired with desserts. Not until after appreciating these bottles did I see the reviews that rate this wine- consistent 94/95 scores. Drinking this wine brings an immediate smile to my face, and a slight tinge of regret that this is the last time I may taste this vintage.

If you’ve read my comments on auction wine, you might enjoy knowing that I purchased this bottle at auction as part of a mixed case. The key bottle in the case was a Margaux I was aching to get my hands on. Two half-bottles of Chateau Climens 1990 were part of the deal. Since opening the first and now second of these, I’m wishing I had more of them- while they are available, it’s at a steep price.

If you enjoy sweet wines or have any interest, this wine pairs beautifully as a foil to fois gras, cheeses, or pate’s and is a lovely complement to desserts from a vanilla flan to powerful chocolate. Powerful in its own rights, small servings are appropriate.

A votre santé!

Choosing Wine for the The Out of Town Dinner Party

16 Jun

High Cotton

On a recent business trip, I attended an evening dinner party at a lovely Charleston, SC restaurant called High Cotton. I was asked to choose wine for the group of 12, which was an even mixed group of varying ages from 30-50’s, men and women.

High Cotton has two wine menus, one Reserve (on the expensive side, starting at a hundred bucks and going into the thousands), and one ‘standard’ in front of the food menu. This restaurant utilizes local providers for a very high end approach to southern cuisine, with plenty to choose from at reasonable prices.

http://www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com/highcotton/charleston/menus/

I listened to what people were discussing while viewing the menu. Some people decided quickly, others discussed options and reviewed the daily specials. I quickly scanned the reserve wine and standard wine lists. At this restaurant, wines are even more diverse than the food, which runs from vegetarian options to fish, fowl and beast in many different forms.

Had cost been no concern, I could have used the reserve wine list and started with either Montrachet or Meursault, and then slowly pained over the Burgundy red list as there are many very nice wines in this collection, but highly expensive wines are also highly specific. While I had a very appropriate wine budget from the host, I wanted wines that were slightly less specific for this group to make better overall pairings, so I quickly decided to stay with the regular list and finally selected two wines using the criteria below.

My goals: I wanted a white for the salads, appetizers, soups, and fish entrees. I looked for a semi-dry white with minerality that had no more than a hint of sweetness, featuring forward & crisp acidity but little oak or wood which might preclude it from pairing with shellfish, the salad with peach and the cold peach soup that was a daily special.

For the other wine, I wanted a medium-bodied red with some age (or a young red with excellent structure and balance) that could stand up to match the savory appetizers and heavier meats, but that could also be enjoyed on its own if someone just wanted to enjoy a glass of red. A Bordeaux blend seemed obvious after reviewing the California, Spanish, Australian and South American options.

My selections were both French wines. I quickly mentioned each to the server, who smiled and agreed they would work well with the varying dishes on the menu.

White: Vouvray Domaine Huet France, 2010 ($56). I like the Chenin Blanc grape for the task.

I know the Loire valley and Vouvray well, but had not tasted this vineyard since the 1990’s. Pale straw color and a lovely floral and honeysuckle nose. First taste was clean, delicious with bright fruit- apple, pear, quince, and a touch of citrus which led into the lengthy finish. Nice and dry, balanced and delicious. I was thoroughly impressed by this bottle, and after I tasted it I looked it up quickly to see it ranked a 92/100 from Wine Spectator -score! The most important showing was when I watched my dining partners taste this wine with the salads, cold fruit and warm daily special soups, fish, and other dishes- and the results were entirely positive.

Red: Pomerol, Gombaude Guillot Bordeaux, France, 2000 ($88)

This was the only French wine on their non-reserve that had some age to it, and I knew that 2000 was a great year for the right bank, though I’ve been told not to touch right bank wines until they are 15, I felt this was a safe bet as opposed to some wines I did not know that posed greater risk in comparison. I made a mental note of a back-up wine I liked, and watched closely as it was decanted at the table. The color was a bright ruby with a slight browning on the edge, more than I’d expect for a 12 year old vintage. The nose was red fruit and flora. Cassis and red plum show as the dominant fruit, secondary notes of cherry, clay, cedar and spice box together with a touch of spicy pepper and gravel at the back. Medium finish, medium body overall, and soft tannins. The Pomerol terroir of clay and its velvety quality show nicely. When I did my quick look at the ratings I was surprised to see this wine had ratings in the mid-80’s. I disagreed with this perspective, and felt that this wine offered more- perhaps it was the age, the success in the pairing, but regardless this wine was a delicious choice.

Ordered for the table were pork belly w/ pickled watermelon, buttermilk fried oysters, and a charcuterie plate (which was phenomenal, including a house terrine, a fois gras, and a rabbit terrine). Our group ordered widely across the menu, including both hot and cold seasonal soups, salads in addition to the  shared savory appetizers for the table. For main courses everything from fish to rabbit to chicken to steaks were ordered.

The table of 12 raved at both wines and the pairings with their meals. I was fully satisfied I had done my job, and we enjoyed bottles of each for the courses we poured through over several hours including shared desserts.

So other than my wine reviews, what do we take home from this dinner party?

1) Don’t be embarrassed to check your selections with the sommelier or qualified server. They know the food and have tasted it and have seen clients respond to food and wine before. They will know which dishes and wines are crowd-pleasers, and what to suggest to pair with the house favorites.

2) A good pairing improves the quality of both the wine and the food.

3) Know what you like. Heck, even if you don’t have an educated palate or strong understanding of wine, do share what you normally like so someone can help you if you are staring at a menu with things you don’t know.

à votre santé!

Old World Tradition: Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte 2006

11 Jun

Image

Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte 2006

Grand Cru Classe De Graves

This wine from Pessac-Lèognan in Graves, Bordeaux, France is an unusual and delightful red Bordeaux blend. A dark ruby color with maroon edges, the perfumed nose is dense with plum, blackberry, violet, and tobacco leaf.

The mouthfeel is classic old-world Bordeaux, the fruit is pushed to the mid of the palate and the darker, less common elements are featured: cacao, saddle leather, tobacco, forest floor– all in a delightful harmony of full bodied flavor complemented by sharp acid and sweet tannins for an amazing experience and brings to mind a classic men’s club vision of wing-backed chairs, piles of old leather-bound books, nautical antiques and cigar smoke in front of a massive fireplace.

This historic and rare wine sells from the mid $70’s to several hundred dollars per bottle online, has been ranked 93 and 92 by two of the world’s top wine experts, and should be at its peak after 2014. It is also a delightful experience right now if you can find it.

A New Model For Wine Tasting: The Mini Bottle

11 Jun

Recently several direct email wine advertisers suggested I buy a “Tasting Room” set of wines. This is a manufacturer/product, new to me, with an interesting approach. Their angle is to provide mini-bottle sized wine samples as well as selling full-sized bottles to the end user. One of the ads on a Snooth.com email advertised the price drop from $35 to $18 as an introductory offer, I figured I’d take the plunge. I elected to try the world selection for $18 (plus shipping, total $22.99) which provided me six 50ml (or 1.69 oz) bottles of various wines: two white, four red.

A few days later, via UPS ground, arrived a compact box the size of a standard binder but 3” deep. The package seemed solid, and bore a large notice: Contains Alcoholic Beverages, Adult Signature Required.

Inside that box was a smaller, black cardboard box with an intricate design. I opened it, removed a to cover and found six mini bottles of wine:

-Spring Seed Wines Four O’Clock Chardonnay (Australia)

-Old Coach Road Sauvignon Blanc (Nelson, New Zealand)

-Stickybeak Pinot Noir (Sonoma, CA)

-Il Cuore Zinfandel (Mendocino CA)

-La Montesa Rioja, (Alfaro, Spain)

-Urraca Malbec, (Mendoza, Argentina)

The box inside lid says in large print and two different fonts, “DRINK ME life is good” (see picture at top).  On the lower box left insert is printed a note that the included samples are not meant to be cellared but enjoyed today. On the right insert, I see a web address and suggestion to buy full-sized bottles from Tasting Room. Smart packaging. I’m curious who the specific demographic is for this company.

After a long day of travel and family obligations, we’ve elected Italian for dinner. So I’ll put the whites in the fridge and pull out the first red wine. I crack open the metal screw cap and pour a tiny bit into the glass, then a little more. Then I pour the entire mini-bottle; while more than my normal first taste, for a full sample  it appears pitifully small in my glass (see picture).  Yet the bottle is just enough for a fair assessment. The picture below demonstrates the bottle size and amount of wine in the glass:

Here are my first responses to the wines I tasted:

Stickybeak 2009 Pino Noir (Sonoma Coast) had a diluted ruby color with a nose of red fruit on the vine. The palate is gentle,  fruity and acidic with raspberry, cassis and spice. I probably would not buy again at the listed price of $20/bottle on Wine Spectator,  $15/bottle on TastingRoom.com or at the web price of $13/bottle- there are much better choices out there for less.

http://www.stickybeakwines.com

Il Cuore “The Heart” Zinfandel, Mendocino CA, 2009: Deep garnet color. On the palate: Black cherry, some plum, pepper and a note of wood (maybe redwood) on the abrupt finish. Tastes like part shiraz to me. Interestingly enough, after writing that I found the winemaker’s website and found this Zin is actually a blend of zinfandel and petite syrah grapes.  Also the manufacturer lists their retail cost at $12.50, so it’s curious I’d find this online at $15.99/bottle by Tasting Room. Hmmm. Can you say ‘margin increase’, kids? I thought you could.

http://www.ilcuorewines.com

So far, considering what I’ve tasted from Tasting Room, I’m not rushing to my local providers to see if they can order by the case. But at an average of $3.84 per 1.69 oz taste, it’s a less expensive way to taste.  At the $18/six bottle set price, it’s not a bad way to try wines.

But Tasting Room’s suggested retail cost of $35 per six bottle sampler, my gut response is that I would probably not partake unless there were specific bottles I really wanted to get my hands on.  But YMMV, especially if you want to taste six wines for the cost of two decent glasses. Tasting Room currently has six bottle flights that cover specific wineries to a particular grape to a region or country and many more, including their take on “Hidden Gems” “Wine for Dudes” and “Premium Reds”.

For the taster, the 1.69 ounce bottle is not a bad way to taste a reasonable amount of wine without over-imbibing (er, unless you foolishly drink all six bottles in one sitting.) TR does offer a “Super Flight” which includes two full-sized bottles at those additional prices, which might be of interest to some.

http://www.tastingroom.com/

Here’s an interesting link to a February 2012 article on Tim Bucher, the CEO of Tasting Room:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/business/tim-bucher-of-tastingroomcom-on-monday-night-strategizing.html

Last but not least, is the issue I’ve skirted so far. The mini bottle as a wine bottle? OK, we’ve all seen or experienced half bottles, maybe even the tenth on an airplane. Given the change in mood regarding synthetic corks and screwtop caps, why not try the mini bottle as a wine storage device? Tasting Room says they have a ‘sealed, zero-oxygen transfer chamber’ in their Northern California. Interested? More on that here: http://www.tastingroom.com/articles/TASTE/A+Matter+of+T.A.S.T.E.

À votre santé!

JvB does remind you to drink responsibly, use a dedicated driver when drinking outside your home, and never drink and drive!

An Easy Summer White from France

5 Jun

Val de L’Ours Chardonnay 2010 is a country white from the Languedoc region of Southern France near the Mediterranean Sea, cultivated and bottled by the Domaines de Rothschild (Lafite) group under the Chateau d’Aussieres label.

100% Chardonnay grapes are matured in stainless steel instead of barrels for this wine, it has a strong straw color and a gentle nose of lemony citrus and wildflowers. The palate is free of oak and demonstrates fresh lemon, grapefruit, crisp pear and some notes of fresh apple.

On the drier side of chardonnays, this wine has solid structure and its crisp acidity offsets the fruit to make it a slow sipping wine capable of being appreciated by the masses, even though it has limited availability with 5,000 cases produced annually. It’s extremely fresh and designed to pair well with meals, but can be enjoyed as an aperitif, but this is a more mature white, easily enjoyed by the connoisseur as well as the amatuer. An excellent vin du table that is easy to pair with fish, salad, or white meats, it’s a solid value at $10-12/bottle.

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