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Pairing Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux on National Oyster Day!

3 Aug

 


William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux SEA 2017 Ltd Edition, Chablis, France. 12.5% ABV, SRP $24.99/bottle.

 

What could be better in the heat of summer than a cold bottle of chablis? Probably the only way to improve that is with some freshly shucked oysters. Don’t panic, the old ‘R’ rule of only eating oysters from September to April no longer counts, as oysters are farmed carefully all year ’round and brought to market with massive concern for proper temperature maintenance. As a matter of fact, National Oyster Day is outside of the ‘R’ months entirely, on August 5th. It’s time to celebrate!

 

There are so many ways to enjoy oysters -Rodney’s Oyster House in Toronto, Canada has a two-oyster serving of deep-fried oysters that is a savory delight. The famed recipe from New Orleans for Oyster Rockefeller is a gorgeous example of taking oysters to the next level, in a town where there are plenty of specialty restaurants who simply charbroil them on a platter with a mix of garlic and butter. But nothing is as good as a sip of chablis, followed by a perfect, freshly-shucked oyster with a tiny squeeze of lemon, sucked into your mouth, a few chews to mix the salty belly together with the sweet muscle, and swallow. The oyster’s briny juice, the delicate meat, the essence of the ocean are elevated when Chablis provides an ideal blend of white fruit together with a breath of salt air, a lemony finish and a gently acidic aftertaste to follow and make you want more, more, more!

Pairing Chablis is easy, since the base of the Chablis region’s terroir is largely chalk, marl, limestone, and oyster shells from an ancient Jurassic seabed. That makes anything from the ocean an easy choice, along with warm and cold soups, salads, appetizers, or just a sunny day. So if you don’t love shellfish, try sushi or sashimi, freshly grilled octopus, pan-fried flounder, lobster, ahi tuna, or smoked salmon on a bagel- I can promise you, it’s delightful!

 

Jurassic-Era soil sample from Chablis: Calcified Oyster Shells, Limestone, & Marl

 

 

 

Wine Tasting Notes, Please?

Before I wax poetic on National Oyster Day, I promised you a wine review, didn’t I?

 

Color is deep straw with excellent clarity. The nose is a glamorously fresh bouquet of lime zest and sea spray. On the palate is a bright mix of apple, pear, lemon, and honeydew melon. Lovely acidity with a crisp yet delightfully silken and gossamer mouthfeel. The finish includes notes of chalk, flint, sodium, and the smallest hints of oak. This wine is so up my alley, it’s obvious how I adore it. But I have to admit: while I lust for the aged Premiere Cru wines from Fèvre in the $100/bottle category (much like my favorite white burgundies), this wine, -with an SRP of only $24.99 and street prices under $20- sates my palate and makes me SO very happy when drinking it!

Need I say it? This is a tremendous bottle and in my opinion, a superb value that you can get for a daily drinking price. Part of me wants to stop writing and buy all I can, but the greatest joy in wine and food is sharing with others! So now you know- this is the wine you want when you want to eat seafood, and absolutely, this is what you want to pair with oysters on National Oyster Day!

 

 

Summing Up? Bottoms Up With Chablis! 

Rowan Jacobsen is one of the foremost experts on oysters,  and if you ask him what wine to drink with oysters, he has three words: Chablis, Chablis, Chablis!  I have heard him say it before, and here’s a fun video where you can hear him discuss oysters and chablis!

 

Drop me a note and let me know: what are you drinking on National Oyster Day? And, what’s YOUR favorite #Chablis?

 

#PureChablis

 

à votre santé!

 

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5 Lesser-Known Gems of Burgundy to Find & Drink NOW!

8 May

Don’t be confused when you see “Bourgogne” on the label. In English, that translates to Burgundy.

Burgundy is the region from which some of the world’s most expensive AND most-prized wines originate, but you can also drink gorgeous, world-class wines for $15-30, what we like to think of as a “daily” drink, as opposed to a weekend or special occasion wine. Because with a tiny bit of knowledge and research, you can drink affordable Burgundy any day of the week that you want to!

Last week I shared five reasons to drink the wines of Bourgogne. Now, here are five lesser-known gems of Burgundy, each a delightful and affordable example of her tremendous terroir and the skilled winemaking from the 84 AOCs that are represented within her five winemaking regions.

 

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé, Chablis AOC 12% ABV, SRP $ 14.95

 

This sparkling wine is delicate & aromatic, made from 100% pinot noir grapes. The color is pale salmon. The nose offers rose petals, carnation, and raspberry. On the palate: quite dry, raspberry and cranberry flavors are dominant, which shifts to a long, tart, and satisfying finish with hints of clay and limestone. Small, moderate bubbles provide a relaxed yet robust mouthfeel. You will absolutely ask for more! This sparkling wine drinks beautifully and equally as well as wines that cost twice as much- affordable enough to drink any day of the week, but your mouth will think it’s a holiday!

An interesting fact: this sparkling has bolstered sales in the USA over the last several years, increasing marketshare by more than 10% last season alone. At this price, why not?

 

 

Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2015; 12.5% ABV, Street price @ $29/bottle.

Color is pale gold, like a warm early morning ray of sunshine. The nose is delightfully balanced with citrus, lemon rind, wildflowers and fresh cut grass.  On the palate, white stone fruit and citrus blend: peach, pear, lemon- with plenty of chalky limestone minerality with a great acidity that provides both a delightful sense of  freshness, and a the potential to age and mature gracefully to enjoy years down the road. Made from 100% chardonnay grapes that are hand picked, hand sorted, and eight months spent on the lees, entirely in stainless. This domaine has been entirely organic since 2004, which allows more expression, delicacy of flavor and minerality. A premier cru at $30?  I’m in.


 

 

 

 

Maison Chanzy Rully En Rosey 2016 by  Jean -Baptiste Jessiaume; ABV 13%, SRP 24.99

This is among the lesser-known appellations of Burgundy that offer tremendous value of quality wines from Bourgogne at reasonable prices! A delightful, oaked chardonnay, this wine spends six months in oak- two to three in new French oak and three-to four months in neutral oak barrels to have the perfect blend of gentle influence and balance. Color is warm afternoon sunshine, with a nose of a saline seashore with lemon rind and vanilla bean. On the palate, moderate citrus, forward, nice acidity, moderate mouthfeel- this wine is ready to be an apéritif or to accompany seafood, oysters, clams, mussels or escargots, and just as easily with enough acidity and body to pair with dried meats, cheeses, or with steak tartare or carpaccio.  A quick search showed many of my favorite wine stores already carry this under-the-radar, strong value Burgundy. Try this for your table, and then you’ll buy more for your cellar!

 

 

 

Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise Les Claveaux 2016 12.5% ABV, SRP $21.99

 

This wine is organically-grown.  Color is medium ruby. The nose is a touch earthy, with rose, dried cherries, potting soil, dried herbs, & black currant. The palate features quite linear fruit with high acidity. It is heavy on the stone fruits, and chock full of minerality with clay, limestone, and a touch of silica. Overall a very nice structure with gentle tannins. Quite delicate, and a pretty wine to enjoy. In Bourgogne, they call this wine “gourmand” which doesn’t really translate accurately to English, but is quite a compliment over there. Some would call this wine feminine, I call it delicious and delightful!

 

 

 

 

 

and last but not least:

Domain Bart, Fixin, Marsannay-la-Côte 2015, 13% ABV, SRP 29.95.

Color is a luxurious deep ruby, while the nose shows eucalyptus, black cherry, and red currants. On the palate, there is bright raspberry and voluptuous cherry, with a beautiful and long finish, on which there were notes of flint, currants, and clay. I could easily pair this classic Burgundian pint noir with a fish (with a savory  or spicy sauce, perhaps), fowl, mushrooms, or delicate red meats.

This northern Côte-de-Nuits is clean and beautiful, showing old-world and age-worthy qualities. This lesser-known appellation is ideal for entry-level prices into Burgundy from a top quality estate- so raise your hands, who want entry-level pricing? (We ALL do, right?) Well, I found this quite quickly (first try!) at Astor Wine & Spirits.

 

Fixin is a northen Côte-de-nuits AOC.

 

 

 

 

Who else is ready for a glass of Bourgogne?

à votre santé!

 

Five Reasons To Drink the Wines of Bourgogne

1 May

Maybe you already know to drink the wines of Burgundy, but maybe you don’t know WHY. While I was writing reviews of my recent tasting of wines from Bourgogne, I sat and wondered about the huge cross-section of my readers- from those who are wildly knowledgeable, to those just exploring about the wonderful world of wine for the first time. And I thought, “This is a good reminder we could all use from time to time!”

So here are your top 5 reasons (if you ever need them) to drink the wines of Burgundy/Bourgogne:

 

5. Chablis.  Maybe I need not say any more, but if you’re sadly unaware: Chablis is the Audrey Hepburn of white wine. Chablis is alluring, surprising, endearing, romantic, focused, yet wildly expressive! And the kiss of Premier Cru Chablis on your lips and crossing your palate is one you will never forget.

 

 

4. Simple grapes with the loftiest goals: There are only two main grape varieties grown in Bourgogne that account for over 90% of the wine from the area. If you don’t know already, they are Chardonnay (51%) and Pinot Noir (40%). But these AOCs produce some of the finest expressions found in wine and demonstrate some of the world’s best winemaking with just these two grapes.

 

 

3. Crémant. Just because there are two main grapes doesn’t mean the winemakers stop there. Their Crémant de Bourgogne is gorgeous. Effervescent, bone dry, delightful, elegant, and believe it or not, affordable! Blanc and Blanc de Blanc demonstrate beautiful floral, white fleshy fruit and toasted notes, while Rosé and Blanc de Noir show delicate red fruit and tiny hints of spice.

 

2. Terroir, Terroir, Terroir. Pinot Noir from Bourgogne tastes ethereal and mystical, while being grounded with notes that range from earthy to floral, tannins that range from silky to velvety. These wines can show the perfect balance of ripe red fruit, mouth-watering acidity, luscious tannins with oak influence and soil minerality on the finish.

 

 

1. Bourgogne IS “Burgundy”. Burgundy is simply the name for Bourgogne translated to English. And while you can find the world’s finest and most expensive wines here, you can also find tremendous value- be it Premiere or Grand Cru, Villages, or Regional AOC. Don’t be lost in translation on the label!

 

 

Before you goif you just learned something, then you’ll want to know this, too!

The five wine-producing regions of Bourgogne (and a few of they famed appellations) are:

1) Côte de Nuits (there are 81 Premiere Crus from Nuits-St-George, Vosne-Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin alone!)

2) Côte de Beaune (including Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet)

3) Côte Chalonnaise (including Givry, Montagny, and Rully)

4) Mâconnais (including Mâcon, Saint-Véran, Puilly-Fuisse)

5) Chablis (including Irancy, Chablis, Auxerre, among others. Chablis is the source of Crémant de Bourgogne!)

 

Keep an eye out for my forthcoming reviews of the wines of Bourgogne I tasted last week- all in a practical & affordable price range! 

For more information, click on https://www.bourgogne-wines.com

 

à votre santé!

Finding the Chardonnay Trifecta!

22 May

May 21st was National Chardonnay Day! It’s not like we need an excuse to drink chardonnay. Recently, however, my calendar has been full of fun tastings and events (on top of my normally insane life working in entertainment) so my chardonnay intake has been quite low.

And by low I mean simply nonexistent.
Here’s a question for you, dear readers, and I’d like your responses!
Q: Does wanting to drink GOOD chardonnay make me a snob?  

There is so much mediocre chardonnay on the market. I have no problem buying a low-cost wine, mind you- I just want a great tasting chardonnay. In honor of #ChardonnayDay I went to the cellar and picked two wines I have hoarded for a special occasion, one from Sonoma, one from Burgundy. I opened them, and had a small pour from each. 

I sat and looked at the wines. I was trepidatious. These bottles of wine are my special, adored treasures. Once opened, they could no longer be kept. And that could be good or bad- I’ve been experiencing premature oxidation with many white burgundies, enough to cause my heart to race when looking through my cellar at racks I have been patiently waiting for the perfect age to enjoy.

Tangent: When you open a special, pricey bottle that has been either corked or prematurely oxidized, it’s heartbreaking. And it’s happened more often that I’d like to admit. I thought I was the only one, until I saw social media posts about it and then bluntly asked my trusted wine aficionado, blogger The Drunken Cyclist about his mention. It’s kind of like getting athlete’s foot from the gym shower and having your doctor patiently explain WHY other people are wearing those ugly shower shoes.

Apologies for the tangent, we’re not here to talk about athlete’s foot or shower shoes today. Here, these are funny wine flip flops, since I don’t have a cute cat video to share:

retro_wine_bottles_and_glasses_flip_flops-rf23dd62dbf4146aa91a059bc28c6d286_z9cuv_324

 

If you really require a higher level of amusement, watch this (not cat) video demonstrating how to open a wine bottle using a flip flop. This is a method I’d suggest only if you would like to drink your wine only after running it through a blender, which has a similar effect:

Enough of this tangent?

Getting back to the point.

#ChardonnayDay. Looking at two glasses, each one holding a small amount of wine from two of my treasured, cellared bottles for “a special occasion”, much like #OTBN. Well, “No Day But Today”, with apologies to Jonathan Larson.

 

One final whiff of the nose, and finally, to the mouth. Sip. Swirl, sucking in air. Swish, hold. Add air, swish, hold. Swallow. Consider.

 

Heaven. When chardonnay is great, there is no mistaking it. When I was nosing these wines, I wondered what food I should find to pair them with. To be certain, after a sip from each, I no longer cared about any food. Both of these wines were so blissfully stunning, I was blind to anything but the joy represented in the glasses.  Have you ever found yourself holding a glass of wine that shows this trifecta: a perfect specimen of the grape varietal, a growing region’s well-suited terroir, paired with love, care, and obsession in delicate winemaking? I have. Both of these fit the bill.

Meursault Heroine

 

I have to say, I was nervous. Our wine treasures are ever-changing chemical blends. I’ve had both brilliant and horrid experiences with bottles I’ve cellared and treasured. It could be, to quote Eddie Izzard,  “Cake or Death?”

 

Unknown

 

Except with chardonnay.

I know. You’re sophisticated.  You get the point. “Chardonnay or Death.”

 

First world problems.

 

So. Both of these wines… made me feel ecstatic and entirely focused, like a teenager madly in love: for a moment, nothing else mattered: no term papers, no cares about school, my parents, my after-school job. No matter if I had a pimple, high school was frustrating, or I’d come to terms with the sad fact that the lead singer of a band I really liked was in reality a total jerk (truth). Nothing else mattered. THIS. WAS. STUNNING. Just fast-forward thirty (ok, maybe forty?) -plus years to Middle-Age aka Blatant Adulthood. This… this is serious wine. Yeah. Oh, that’s good.

There will be no notes today of these wine, no mention of the pale straw color of the meursault or the green hue of Iconic’s Heroine. I won’t talk about how beautiful the mouthfeel, how like Sonoma the Heroine drinks, or how complex the meursault was. I found the trifecta again! Because like those glasses of wine, it was all in the moment, which was beautiful and fleeting, and now is simply a memory.

Happy #ChardonnayDay!

 

à votre santé!

New and No Longer Too New! Pairing Wines #MWWC21

7 Dec

Though ineligible to win, I feel I owe it to my fellow wine bloggers to participate in what might be a challenging wine blogging topic that I chose for this month’s theme of #MWWC21: Pairing.

wine-stain1-3

Perhaps you have read my 2015 annual Thanksgiving Wine post and the post-mortem in which I gave myself, and not the wine, letter grades based on popular reaction at the table to the wine choices. Such is the challenge and fun in wine, in trying to please people’s palates. Try as we might, to quote John Lydgate, “you can’t please all the people all the time. ” But I love to spend time figuring out what wines will pair well with which dishes or meal, as the combination of food and wine  provides an opportunity to elevate the experience together to a higher level of enjoyment than one could experience by only food or wine alone. Sometimes, the pairings are good, on rare occasion that can ascend to be exquisite or sublime. Most of the time, the goal is to find a wine that will complement the food beautifully, that the diner will enjoy. Simple, right? Maybe…maybe not! Ready?

Sébastien Dampf Chablis 2014 Grand Vin de Bourgogne. Chablis, Burgundy, France. 12.5% ABV, $23/bottle.

Pale gold in color with a nose of honeysuckle, violet, lemon zest and walnut. In the mouth, the wine is beautifully vibrant showing racing acidity and bright, mouth-watering citrus. Tart lemon-lime is lengthy on the upper and back palate. An obvious absence of wood is apparent, while the finish features an expansive  model of fruit together with the salinity found both in sea air and limestone. Over several meals, I paired this young wine perfectly with both baked chicken and turkey breast. It has plenty of salinity to handle seafood and shellfish, and the bright acidity leaves the palate clean and refreshed after I enjoyed some milder, creamy cheeses like gouda, edam, chèvre, brie and camembert. Compares well to wines at double the price, I will be on the lookout for more wines from this producer and am sorry I didn’t buy more.

Dampf

 

Barton & Guestier Saint-Emilion “Gold Label” 2010 Bordeaux Blend, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%ABV, $20/bottle. 

Pale maroon in color with a nose of sour cherries, wet grass and vegetation. On the palate, dark plum and red raspberry are featured with lesser notes of bell pepper and tobacco. Medium in body with complementing tannins; notes of cedar, young oak, forest floor, and chalky clay on the medium long finish. I first opened a bottle of this wine in spring of 2013 and the only note I took was “chewy & green: too young”, but recently I came across this vintage again and decided that now, at the end of 2015 I might try another bottle. Luckily, I  found better results: maturity! Some chewiness still remains, but this wine is very approachable now, pairing nicely with rich, savory dark meat fowl such as duck and goose, grilled lamb and beef, and full-bodied cheeses. A blend of 75% Merlot with remaining in Cabernet Franc that sustained well over several days of tasting, improving with air slowly. The most fun I had with this wine was when trying a spicy recipe for Buffalo-Sauce laced Brussel Sprouts and Buffalo Chicken, a dish with a ton of flavor and spice that demanded something equally powerful. This bottle was open, and it was able to meet the task, in spite of the fact that I probably would have chosen a pure cabernet sauvignon as a foil to the dish. One of the joys of wine tasting is having a bunch of open bottles, so you can taste several wines with a dish and see how well they fare… or don’t!

B&G StEm

 

à votre santé!

Passion on the Shelf: Xavier Wine Company, NYC

30 Aug

The Meatpacking District of Manhattan is not exactly known for being a haven of amazing wine stores, until now. There is at least one, called Xavier Wine Company. A tiny storefront off Little West 12th Street, it was the pedestrian sign that caught my attention:

 

Xavier 1

I went inside, and saw shelves laden of lovingly selected, carefully chosen labels. This is a place of quality over quantity. I identified several wines I had great interest in, and met James Parisi, owner and oenophile. He explained to me that Xavier’s focus is on sustainable, organic, and biodynamic wines! It made perfect sense to me- as the shelves are curated with great precision, from delightful Italian and Spanish choices on the shelves you first encounter; perusing a wide selection of nice California, Washington, & Oregon wines in the middle of the store next to a centerpiece of high end spirits that are opposed by a variety of chilled sparkling wines directly across the aisle; with a wide alcove of Burgundy, Alsace, and Bordeaux wines in the annex with selected offerings from Beaujolais, Rhône, Provence & Loire wine regions completing the sales floor. I was entranced by such careful selection of specific winemakers, the attention paid to a wide selection of regions. I recognized bottle after bottle that I wanted to snatch into my arms and congratulate the owner on having such excellent taste- not on having a store of good wines, but one of great winemakers, and for being a fellow Francophile. What can I say, this buyer has great taste in wine. So what’s his deal?

James Parisi, owner, Xavier Wine Company, explained to me that his store has been open for “about a year, and if you come by regularly, you’ll notice the store is more of a community” for wine aficionados; “a fine wine experience”, if you will. To be certain, I was entranced, finding bottle after bottle of small winemakers I normally have to fight to seek out across the tristate area or sometimes across the country, while Jim has their wares in threes and fours, ready to take home and enjoy, sometimes perfectly chilled! And still, while I saw a few price tags in the hundred dollar range, in the racks were far greater options in the magic “$20 and under” that so many of my readers are looking for.

Xavier 2

James Parisi of Xavier Wine Company with a few of his Rhône varietals. 

 

What did I take home, you wonder. I was cautious at first, but shortly I was salivating. My picks:

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013 White Burgundy, 12.5%ABV, $34. Pale yellow in color with a delightfully floral nose. On the palate, a combination of white stone fruits and strong Meyer lemon finish with notes of limestone and clay. Gentle, balanced, delightful.

Domaine Moreau-Naudet  Parques Chablis “Vielle Vignes”- 2012 White Burgundy, 12.5%ABV, $38. Medium straw in color with a light, floral/citrus nose. In the mouth, a delicate balance of fruit and acidity; a classic chablis of near idyllic quality. The uneducated palate would say “oh this is nice” but the burgundy-fanatic will howl in joy at the expressive, terroir-driven finish that competes with wines double the price.

Les Hauts Du Tertre Margaux 2004. 13% ABV, $45. What can I say…I’m a fan of Margaux, of Tertre, and to find a bottle of their second wine with eleven years of age for a reasonable price, I’m not about to pass it up. I will have to wait and decant this after it has some rest, though.

The only bad part of discovering Xavier Wine Company was being on foot, and staying true to my promise to not buy more wine than I can hold in my arms. I saw so many bottles there I wanted to take home…you, my friends, will have to help me.  

http://www.xavierwines.nyc

à votre santé!

 

Dubois Grand Réserve Chardonnay 2013

14 May

Joséph Dubois Grande Réserve Chardonnay Bourgogne 2013. $12/bottle, 12.5% ABV.

Medium straw in color; a delicately floral nose shows hints of bosc pear and white peach. In the mouth, gentle citrus and more savory, fleshy pear are well matched with bright, lasting acidity. As the wine warms, the focus of the finish shifts from the tongue and mid-palate to top and rear palate, adding notes of citrus, limestone, and toast to the finish. 

This bottle shows off some small level of pedigree, lauding both terroir and winemaking while appealing to most white wine drinkers in being a value-driven introduction to white burgundy, and a decent choice for those who strive for the low-cost bottles. This wine is pleasant to drink alone and purrs when paired well with food. In warm weather, it’s important to remember to remove from fridge 20 minutes before serving to allow the wine to warm and show some flavor expansion. When served too cold it is subtle and gentle while enjoyable, yet lacking the depth and finesse that shows with proper serving temperature.

Dubois Chardonnay

à votre santé!

‘Drinking Local’ at Total Wine: A Big ‘ol Wine Store in Atlanta

8 Oct

On a recent trip to Atlanta I had the fortune to mix business with pleasure. The pleasure was seeing friends from high school at a get-together that was essentially BYOB. For me, that meant wine shopping. I had to hunt locally in Atlanta, but I’m no longer a local. I  haven’t lived there since the 1980’s, and had no clue where to go. So I opened my phone, tapped, found, & then shopped in the closest wine store that popped up on Google Maps: a store called Total Wine (Atlanta), near Perimeter Mall.

It’s a huge store by NYC standards. For the rest of the country, it’s about the size of a small CostCo, Kmart, or Home Depot. They have a LOT of wine here. There’s copious beer, too, though the sign says “Total Wine” it doesn’t say “Totally Wine”.

I wandered the aisles briefly. Towards the front of the store was a cooler than caught my eye, with lots of tasty delights to tempt the oenophile. First growths, some big name firsts and seconds, the range in the first minute was from $50-$1500/bottle. Color me initially impressed, and I saw a magnum of Far Niente that might be a great party favor.

While I was peering at options, I got the challenge. “Can I help you with something, Sir?” from my six. It was all I could do to say “I’m a sucker for a first growth, load me up and charge it”  but I managed to keep my NY attitude in check, smile, and ask for a suggestion for a white burgundy and a dry riesling, a little test for both the seller and the store. Show me your hand, buddy. Let’s see what you have.

The kid (ok, the employee…I’m showing my age. HEY! YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!)   was passable, he could walk the walk, and knew enough to be dangerous AND help my New York attitude. Ten minutes later I accepted his third suggestion, after two chablis I passed up. Domaine Patrick Javillier’s  “Les Tillets” Meursault  2012, @$50, 12.5%ABV with delightful subtlety, restraint, snobbery and balance. Oh yes, this will suit my needs, and my friends will reap the benefits!

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I then chose  his second riesling suggestion, Dr.Heidemanns-Bergweiler 2013 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett. @$17, 8.5% ABV (That’s a mouthful, let me tell you!) Semi-dry with apricot and orange peel, it’s a delightful if dense wine and the perfect opener for a party or closer for the “I don’t really drink” crowd.

Heidemanns

I strolled through the aisles of chardonnay and spotted a weakness of mine- DuMOL Chardonnay Need I say more? It shot into my arms. My friends are luckier than they think, this is a wine I can’t even find locally in NYC! Walking through the aisle of pinot, I was sad to see none of the wines I’d fallen in love with over the recent year. No Santa Barbara Pinot? No New Zealand Central Otago Aromatic whites OR pinot noirs? Sad clown face. What I did see was a ton of major producers whose names I knew well. If it was a big winery with wines scoring 85-95 points they had it. If they didn’t sell 10,000 cases it wasn’t in this store.

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Before I left another seller closer to my age saw the bottles tucked in my arms and said “I like your taste in wine”, then offered me a taste of something they had on sale: Courtney Benham Napa Valley Cab 2012. I think it listed for $20, but was on sale for $10. Tasting the dark fruit and wood, it’s a good red party wine I immediately knew would be gone through quickly. I picked up a bottle and headed to the party, where the BYOB became “drink JvB’s” from the serious wine folks. The red wine drinkers, as expected, finished the Benham in record time, while the chardonnay drinkers were able to argue whether they like the old world Les Tillets meursault or the new world (with classic old world approach) DuMOL. Yes, I spoiled them with really good & great wines, and told everyone where I got them- here, at the local wine store.

 

Benham

 

So I had a pretty good experience at Total Wine, and feel that anyone could find something they’d really enjoy in the store.  I was sad that I wasn’t seeing any of the highest quality, small-volume producers that I was specifically seeking from Napa, Alto Adige, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Northern Cali, The Finger Lakes, Washington State, and New Zealand. These are wines that you find when you’re visiting an area, they can blow your mind with their small production, huge quality, made-with-love-for-the-wines-sake bottles. This is what you learn when you drink locally in wine country. And this is why you become a fanatic, a regular wine club member, a champion of the small producer.

But, (and it’s a BIG but)  Atlanta is NOT wine country. So how do you drink “local” in the ATL? “Local wine” in Atlanta means something totally different: not bad, just Different!  I DID find a ton of options, so many of the high-volume wines you see listed in Wine Spectator, it was awesome on that level. I saw more names I recognized from print & region studies than I did from personal tasting experience. And what is in stock is delivered at a fair price, so it’s win-win… or maybe wine-win.

Did I mention that I kept the kabinett, to enjoy privately? Oops. Maybe I didn’t share everything. Hey, they can find it on the shelf  at Total Wine, where “drink local” means something totally different, but might be equally as satisfying.

 

à votre santé!

#MWWC12 

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #12
wine-stain1-3

 

Good, White Burgundy

26 Aug

Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté Meursault, 2011. Cote D’Or, France. From Crush Wine & Spirits, $17/bottle, 11%ABV.

I know. If you love white burgundy… the gentle fruit, the depth, the minerality, the focus… then you already know. Good & cheap white burgundy simply doesn’t exist. I know I constantly search for white burgundies that cost anywhere from $60-$100 for the liquid crack I enjoy with almost everything, but that makes food just sing!

Except that it does exist, really. It’s just not cheap. I just had a case of Pierre Morey 2011 Bourgogne Aligoté arrive at my home for less than two tickets to a Broadway show. Ben over at Crush Wine  knows me well enough to let me know when the great value is in. Just for kicks, as I was enjoying my second, *decadent* and final glass, I clicked over from gloating about this wine on TimeWaster (uh, I mean Facebook) to see what Sherry-Lehman had in white Burgundy under $20. Online, 17 hits from $12-20. Seriously! For 67 Wine, also 17 hits for white Burgundy under $20.

It is out there. But you have to work, just a little. I wouldn’t want to drink all of them, but there are at least three at each store that are very tasty to me. My rarely-purchased-but-lusted-after favorites (that I can afford) cost 4-5 times as much, but this is a delicious wine and I can’t wait to share it with my neighbors.

Pale straw color with a nose of salt sea air, gentle citrus with beautiful acidity makes this roll on your tongue like a summer morning. A luxuriously long finish exists (if you care enough to pay attention and not suck down more of this easy-going elixir) with notes of stone, rhubarb, and lemon/lime zest on the finish. “That’s really good,” said my much better half. Yes, it is. And one bottle costs less than seeing a movie, for crying out loud.

I should really delete this post and buy another case, but I’m out of room in my wine cellar. Sigh… first world problems. I guess it’s time to invite people over for a tasting of some of the 2004 wines, and a bottle of the 2011 Morey Aligoté.

photo 2

 

à votre santé!

(seriously: invite yourself over to my house soon before it’s all gone. You’ve been warned.) 
 
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Desert Island Whites

3 Jul

Is there a red wine you’d drink with breakfast? Perhaps not. But if I were on a desert island and had to choose one wine, I might choose one of these three. They’d certainly be on my list (along with a couple of impossibly expensive choices, including several Montrachets, Cheval Blanc, and one Prüm- most of which I can’t afford) and most importantly, would pair beautifully with island food- fruit, shellfish, seafood, white meat, salad. Right? Easy to enjoy, day or night!

Best of all, these are easy to share with your friends. You’ve already seen the “dark horse” wines I served at a recent neighborhood wine tasting. Now I get to share the three “heavy hitter” wines I served as the culmination to that evening’s selection of white wines. Scroll below the picture for more info:

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Paul Pillot Bourgogne Aligoté  2010. Approx $16.

http://www.domainepaulpillot.com/english.htm

 

DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2011. Approx $50

http://dumol.com/ 

 

Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2012. Approx $65.

http://farniente.com/wines-vineyards/napa-valley-chardonnay/

I’m not providing my personal tasting notes for these wines because in writing them, I quickly got sidetracked with my personal relationship with each wine. Away they went!  So instead, I’ll explain why they are worth celebrating:  

Each of these wines is beautifully made and expresses the winemaker’s skill, the perfection of the grape, as well as terroir with minimal outer influence. Each also demonstrates precise fruit, driven minerality, clean acidity, and expansive depth. They are amazing alone and absolutely stunning with a proper food pairing. The great beauty of serving these wines at a tasting is watching as a person tastes the wine for the first time, comes back to the well a second and third time, finding new notes as the wine opens and expands, evoking additional flavors and expressions. Tasting these wines is wonderful, watching the taster’s face and excitement during the process is also wonderfully addictive and exciting!

While not necessarily “showy” wines, they are instead, massive crowd-pleasers. It was a joy to share these with others and to see them experience such well-made wines after such a long tasting, but the effects were not lost on the group. Everyone found at least one of these three they loved and truly appreciated, and that makes a wine tasting all the sweeter.

What would YOUR desert island wine be?

à votre santé!

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