Archive | May, 2014

In Vino Veritas 2014. Vinho Verde!

28 May

I attended another “In Vino Veritas” group in NYC in which everyone brings a bottle (not the same one, hopefully) of a grape varietal or style of wine. I suggested several possibilities for summer wine options to group’s host,  Jimmy. A few days later I got an invitation via email, and the wine of choice was Portugal’s Vinho Verde.

I’ve been to Portuguese wine tastings before. One at a high-end wine store in Manhattan where I had found the vinho verde choices just not quite to my personal liking at that moment. I hoped to fare better at this one, and knew at least I’d bring one that I enjoyed.

The day of the tasting came and we found ourselves around a table with five bottles of vinho verde, from five different manufacturers, several of which cost under $10. They were quite different in style: some were lighter in color, body, and depth while others had some savory notes and a more yellow hue instead of the pale green I’ve come to associate with them. Not all the wines were sparkling/carbonated, and interestingly enough as a group we all seemed to choose different bottles as our favorite of the set. The tasting process became a great overview of a variance of style and flavors.

My apologies for the lack of specific individual reviews, as I was determined to actually enjoy this tasting and not make it “work”, so I left my notes for the next tasting, and am sharing only the overview today.

Casal Garcia

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Quinta de Azevedo

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Gazela Branco

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Muralhas de Mancao

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Most importantly at this tasting, everyone found a wine (or three) they enjoyed. For most of the group, it was their first time tasting this delicious and refreshing treat just in time for summer. For all of us, it was a great time with friends, trying something new and exciting, learning and enjoying, and having a wonderful summer evening.

vinho-verde-portugalHave a favorite Vinho Verde or a great story to share? Tell us about it!

à votre santé!

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Spice Is Nice, WOW at this price! Your BBQ Rioja is here!

23 May


Finca Valdeguinea Rioja, Spain; 2012. Ltd Edition (15,000 bottles), 14% ABV. Astor Wine & Spirits, $7/bottle.

Made from 100% tempranillo, the color is violet with ruby edging. The nose is of black plum and cherry, while in the mouth blackberry, sour cherry, and black plum flash the palate along with nice acidity. Additional notes of spice, vanilla bean, licorice, new leather, and tart vegetation on the back palate with a nice finish that was longer than I expected. Great for pairing with spicy food, held up beautifully to my spicy chicken fajitas, but will also work well with pizza, any tomato sauce, or red meat. Delightful on the palate and a good value at this cost.

Simply put, a great BBQ wine. I should buy more for the summer. And I love the tongue-in-cheek label, it looks like so many white tablecloths I’ve ruined. You, too?

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à votre santé!

 

Vintage Tunina: a classic white blend goes large!

18 May

Silvio Jermann “Vintage Tunina” 2009 white wine blend, Venezia Giulia, IGT, Italy. 13.5% ABV, Purchased from Garagiste.com at $40/bottle, sourced locally at $64/bottle, online as low as $54/bottle.

Color: warm amber center melding into deep straw. Nose of wildflowers, stone fruit, and baked apple. On the palate, individual fruit flavors give way to the notes of specific grapes used in this blend: sauvignon, chardonnay, ribolla gialla, malvasia, and picolit. Gentle secondary notes of honey, flowers, limestone, and young wood come forth from the huge mouthfeel of this wine with its supple acidity and lengthy finish. If you love rich and creamy whites, this is a wine you will want to try. Be warned, you might fall in love! 

This bottle fits well into the “massive wine” category that few white wines can fill. It is an example of expert winemaking taking from both Italian and Austrian heritage. As a fan of the Bordeaux blend, it’s plain to see why this creation from Silvio Jermann is a big wine that is easy to adore. The intensity and size of the wine cries out for a perfect meal to pair it with to accent the flavor profile and allow the huge finish to linger on your palate.

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My only regret with this wine is having not purchased more of it when I found it at  a superbly low price from Garagistes when it sells for $64/bottle locally, and more recent vintages are even pricier. It’s worth the cost to get a couple of bottles- one to taste and try with your recipes, and one to share with friends.  It will pair beautifully with first and second courses as well as with white meat entrees, and handled a grilled salmon with a sharp green herb sauce beautifully.

If you’ve tasted Vintage Tunina, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

 

à votre santé!

 

 

The Red Wine Party Challenge: Part 2/Conclusion

12 May

In Part 1 of The Red Wine Party Challenge, I provided mini-reviews of eight possible wines under consideration for a catered meal where I needed to choose one red wine for a very large group of people. The criteria included: 

1) Ideally a French wine

2) Must pair with: pasta with a variety of sauce options, poached salmon, roasted vegetables, & sushi.

3) To speed bar service, require alternative enclosure, or to be available in 1.5L bottle.

4) Lower price range ($7-$15/bottle) to stay in the party budget. 

As a refresher, at a local wine store I found these eight wines as possibilities:

La Vielle Ferme (Rhone, France) $7

Rosemont Estate Cab/Merlot Blend “Soft & Smooth” (Australia) $7

Rothschild Mouton Cadet 2012 Bordeaux Blend (Gironde, France) $9

Duboef Beaujolais-Villages Gamay  (Romaneche-Thorins, France) $9

PepperwoodGrove Pinot Noir (Valle Central, Chile) $9

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve, (Rhone, France) $10

Chateau La Freynelle 2010, Merlot/Cab Blend (Bordeaux, France) $12 

Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir (Beaune, France) $15 

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Round One: I started by removing the wines I thought had limited pairing ability- even though they might have paired wonderfully with one specific dish from the meal, after tasting them I had to find that one wine that will stand out on its own AND pair well with all the foods being served- salad, poached salmon, pasta (tomato sauce, pesto, garlic & oil, primavera) as well as a sushi station. Well, it’s called a challenge for a reason, right?  I took three out of consideration after my initial tasting:

-The Rosemont Estate felt smooth and a tiny bit sweet- not right for this pairing.

-While La Vielle Ferme is often a wine I enjoy, this year’s selection was only OK.

-I thought a gamay selection offered good potential, but this bottle of DuBoef felt too astringent.

Round One left me with five remaining wines: two Bordeaux blends, one Rhone, two Pinot Noirs to decide among. 

Round Two is going to be difficult! These wines all drink very well and are delicious, great bargains with no obvious faults.

Time to compare the two pinots and the two Bordeaux. This is not going to be easy, but I’m determined to make it fun!

For the pinot noirs and this meal, the Pepperwood offers more pairing options and is easier to drink by itself. Reluctantly, I had to put the Drouhin to the side. While it is a lovely complement for the salmon and sushi, it did not offer enough body to pair well with the spicier pasta sauces.

-The Mouton Cadet is an easy vin du table that is so incredibly consistent but I preferred the Chateay La Freynelle when considering the entrees being served. I put the Mouton Cadet to the side.

-I compared the Freynelle and the Perron Rhone. I tasted, spat and tasted, and then tried each with a medium cheese. The Famille Perron Rhone has a darker palate yet was more harmonious to the dairy, while the Bordeaux blend was crying out for meat. I’m not serving meat. I put the Freynelle to the side.

 

Round Three! I’m down to Perrin Red Rhone Blend and Pepperwood Pinot Noir.

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Either of these wines would be a wonderful complement. The Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, a Chilean wine that drinks like entry-leve Burgundy from a top producer (at a fraction of the cost) would also be a great example of options to my guests who EXPECT French wines from me. It’s super easy to drink by itself or almost any food. Add the Zork enclosure, and this wine is a killer bargain at $9. Any nay-sayers would be stopped by the list of accolades on the label.

Yet the  Côtes du Rhône is a beautifully-made red that is the epitome of great, inexpensive French red wine, with more body and a longer finish.

I debated and debated. I sipped and spat, swirled, sipped, and swallowed. I had to choose one.

 

Decision time:

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In the end, I went with the Perrin Family Côtes du Rhône. The beefier body, the long finish, and the multiple specific notes from the wine make this the ideal red to serve. It will satisfy those who don’t know anything about wine (who will simply enjoy it with whatever they choose to eat) and equally well it will satisfy the oenophiles who will break down the elements, discuss the fruit, acid and tannins that I do so often in this very space.

So: decision made. For those who wonder what white wines were served, I will make good on that promise!

I started everyone off with the Gazela Vino Verde 2012 $6/bottle from Portugal, whose touch of fizziness reminds the drinker of sparkling wine while being lower in alcohol, light and delicious, making it really fun to drink.

SAQ-Gazela-III

For a full-bodied white, I chose the Yalumba Unwooded Chardonnay 2013 at $11/bottle from Southern Australia. The Yalumba is a vegan and vegetarian-friendly wine that uses no animal-based fining agents as well a being a predominant winemaker who uses both organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking practices in their work. Beyond that, it simply tastes delicious (green apple & white peaches) with notes of stone and spice on the crisp, clean finish. Very satisfying.

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Please share with me YOUR experiences and trials in trying to find the “right” wine. I look forward to hearing from you!

à votre santé!

 

The Red Wine Party Challenge, Part 1

1 May

Here’s a post in two parts that reviews EIGHT inexpensive red wine reviews from my visit to a store while trying to find ONE good value red wine for a large party. Enjoy!

Part 1:

Everyone has events in their life where you can’t serve your dream wines, let alone wine you really love because the number of guests are too high. (OK, if you can afford to serve first growths at your party, then please INVITE ME to your event! I’m a fun guest, look and act respectably and am a wonderful conversationalist!) Yet I wouldn’t leave the wine choice to someone else. No matter what the cost, it needs to be a good wine that will pair well to be enjoyed and appreciated!  So what is the best approach to choosing wine for over one hundred people?Answer: find something affordable that people will love. You got it, a tasting!

My family was planning an event, and about a month ago I found two white wines I really liked and picked up cases for each. (I’ll tell you what they were in Part 2!) After struggling with which red wine to serve for weeks, I finally decided to go to a larger wine store in my area (one I don’t frequent often) and peruse the racks. In 30 minutes I had 8 possible choices, using the following criteria:

1) Ideally, it would be a French red wine

2) It must pair with: pasta with a variety of sauce options, poached salmon, roasted vegetables, & sushi.

3) With bar service, I prefer alternative enclosure, or to be available in 1.5L bottle to speed service. Ideally: screwtop!

4) Looking for lower price range (under $15/bottle, ideally under $12. While it was still a party, we had a budget to try and meet.)

 

The eight challengers, with their initial tasting notes were:

La Vielle Ferme (Rhone, France) $7. Garnet center with ruby body and edging. Subtle nose, with muted fruit on the initial taste, featuring a classical balance of fruit/acidity/tannin. Gentle finish- a straightforward & solid vin du table. (Screwtop)

La Vielle Ferme

Rosemount Estate Cab/Merlot Blend “Soft & Smooth” (Australia) $7. (Screwtop) Bright violet in color, nose of young blackberry, cherry and raspberry. New fresh fruit, good acidity. Slate overtones on the medium finish. 

Rosemount

Rothschild Mouton Cadet 2012 Bordeaux Blend (Gironde, France) $9. Deep purple with violet edging, nose of cassis and forest floor. Green vegetal opening, subtle fruit. Classic vin du table. Tastes heavy on the merlot. (Traditional cork, but available in 1.5L)

Mouton Cadet

Duboef Beaujolais-Villages Gamay (Romaneche-Thorins, France) $9. Bright ruby color with cherry nose. In the mouth, sour cherry with tart overtones, notes of limestone hidden under the astringent finish. (Traditional cork, but available in 1.5L)

Duboeuf

PepperwoodGrove Pinot Noir (Valle Central, Chile) $9. Opaque ruby with violet edging. Features a nose of plum, hint of raspberry bush, cherry blossom and almonds. In the mouth, sweet plum and sour cherry red fruits pair follow with a little pepper, meeting some gentle acidity and subtle tannins. A very easy-going, agreeable wine. (ZORK enclosure!)

Pepperwood

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve 2011, (Rhone, France) $10. Deep violet in color, the nose shows cassis and hints of leather, potting soil, and eucalyptus. In the mouth, black fruit and cassis pair with bold tannins and acidity, providing a lingering finish with lasting overtones: slate, limestone, forest floor and old wood. (Screwtop)

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Chateau La Freynelle 2010, Merlot/Cab Blend (Bordeaux, France) $12. Deep violet with clear edging. Nose shows ripe red fruit, a hint of menthol and cedar shavings. In the mouth, the red fruit bristles the front palate while tannins tighten the mouth and acidity closes the experience before the medium to long finish with lasting notes of ripe plum, new oak, clay and sand. A satisying blend that could pair easily with so many dishes. (Screwtop)

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And from Burgundy, the highest priced wine I considered:

Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir (Beaune, France) $15. Faint cherry, wildflower, and rose blossom. Bright red fruit, slightly muted with powerful acidity and medium tannins. Some spice, pepper, and gravel on the short finish. (Screwtop).

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In Part 2 I’ll explain how I sorted through the wines to decide which would be served at the affair. I hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

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