Tag Archives: Wine

Tasting the Terroir of Domaine Auvigue

10 Jun

Domaine Auvigue “Solutre” Pouilly-Fuisse 2014; Burgundy, France. 13%ABV, MSRP $29/bottle.

 

 

Spend a few minutes with Jean-Pierre Auvigue, and he will endear himself to you, without ever trying. He is both direct and charming, and to my delight, he can discuss winemaking and the terroir of Burgundy to the point of exhaustion.

Jean-Pierre is quick to point out that each year, they simply try to make the best wine they can within the realm of the weather. Since they have tremendous terroir and history already, the goals are to represent the growing season with the finest chardonnay they can make. Techniques are largely traditional; all work in the vineyard is done by hand. Very little new oak is used to keep the focus on the fruit; but to me, the balance is what shines.

 

Jean-Pierre Auvigue with his 2005 Solutre Pouilly-Fuisse

 

Tasting a mini-vertical of the three most recent vintages (’12-’14) and the 2005 Auvigue Solutre Pouilly-Fuisse , I was thrilled to taste the subtle similarities and differences and hear how many varying preferences people had to their own personal favorite from these areas that boast vines that rage in age from 50-85 years of age. Most importantly, they are all delightful and offer tremendous value in white Burgundy wines.

2014/Current Release: Color is a clear, medium straw. The nose offers a delicate citrus scent with a hint of sodium. On the palate, a very linear first impression, a smooth  balance of lemon-lime fruit, acidity and minerality: limestone, clay and flint belie the famed AOC.  As it crosses the mid-palate, the flavors expand to include savory sensations without losing the initial character. Flint and quartz notes cross the back palate with the medium finish, which is as satisfying was the first sip. A wine that starts with drive and delivers complexity, terroir, and a tremendous definition of the Chardonnay grape.

 

 

 

Not to be ignored, another AOC was represented:

Domaine Auvigue Le Moulin du Pont Saint-Véran 2014; Burgundy, France. 13% ABV, MSR $20/bottle.

Color is pale straw with green tinge. The nose offers lime zest and a hint of cut grass and vegetation. On the palate young white pear, starfruit, and orange peel dominate while the top and back palate reveals notes of cedar, gravel, schist and clay, before the medium-long finish leaves your mouth refreshed. Saint-Veran being a newer AOC, this is a tremendous introduction to white Burgundy and a great every day/any day wine at this price point.

 

 

With either one, you can’t go wrong, whether to add to your cellar to hold, or to drink and chill tonight. 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rosé, Rosé, Rosé! (and…Rosé!)

13 Aug

I love sharing off-the-beaten-path wines that you should not miss. While I love the pink wines of Provence, that is not the only rosé region in the game. Here are four rosé wines you will enjoy in varying styles and flavors!

 

Château D’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2013, Rhône, France. 14%ABV, $18-20/bottle online.

A lovely cerise pink in color, nose of watermelon and fresh cut grass. In the mouth,  gentle strawberry and raspberry cross the palate and meld into red plum and young cassis. Medium finish with notes of calcium, sodium and clay. A delightful, aromatic, and complex rosé not only for the summer months, this could play a lighter foil to the stunning Napa rosé I serve at Thanksgiving.

Tavel Rose

 

Renegade Wine Company Columbia Valley Rosé 2014, WA, USA. 11.3%ABV, $14-16 online.

Pale salmon in color with a subtle summer garden bouquet, watermelon and strawberry fill the mouth with just a hint of sweetness in the background, but no sugar. Renegade indeed! Crisp and a clean finish, the wine is unexpectedly tasty and a real surprise at how much fun it is to enjoy.

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Les Hauts de Smith Rosé 2014, Bordeaux, France.  13% ABV; $17/bottle.

Coral in color, the nose offers rose bush and dried figs. In the mouth, muted red fruits, perfect acidity, mid-palate tannins and a mineral backbone show refined, classic winemaking. This is an under $20 rosé that compares beautifully to wines two and three times the price- as subtle as it is, I did not want to put down the glass.

LesHauts Rose

 

 

Antorini Tenuta Guardo Al Tasso Scalabrone Rosé 2014, Bolgheri, Italy. ABV 12.5%;  $18-26 online.

Nose of ripe white peaches, with delicate red fruit on the palate. Clean finish. Balanced acidity, a refined and subtle wine. Delicately complex, flexible to be able to handle many chores. When I served this to a group to was the wine people were reserved about initially and gravitated to later, enjoying it more with food and as the night progressed. It is a keeper.

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What’s your favorite rosé?

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 

8 bottle

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.

photo Pepperwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Valentino of Red Wine

7 Jun

Campo Al Mare Bolgheri 2010 IGT

Sample Provided by Wine Chateau, $21/bottle (reg $35) 14.5% ABV

A dark ruby color and nose of black plum and spice. In the mouth: tart black fruit with licorice and a hint of spice, a medium long finish that becomes more acidic as the tannins close in on the back palate. I was left with a remaining flavor of violet-laced licorice, some clay, and new oak. I was surprised at how Bordeaux-like this felt to me, as if it were a blend of several grapes (and it is, I quickly found out!) Lovers of both classic Italian and French wines will enjoy this, and those who champion “new world” reds will still appreciate this very classic winemaking blend with excellent results.

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With a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, no wonder it reminds me of French wine blending.  I was impressed by this wine, to be honest. I enjoyed it more than I expected to, and the wine stayed consistent over five days with no special treatment. It drinks well on its own and complements proteins and carbs nicely; it was stunning with a single-pot chicken, tomato & green bean dish my wife makes. The more I thought about this wine, the more it reminded me of the Italian film star and sex symbol of the 1920’s, Rudolph Valentino, famous for his dashing Italian looks and soft, gentle charm. To me, this wine embodies some of the best characteristics of European winemaking, and it would be an excellent gift or wine to stock in your cellar that can pair with many food options or be enjoyed on its own, providing quality and a solid value at this price.

You can access the link for the winemaker’s website if you want more information about the Folonari Family of winemakers,  and you can purchase this wine directly from Wine Chateau’s website.

à votre santé!

Best Little Wine Store- Part 2: Wines from the Sorting Table

30 May

I got a note from a reader, asking if I tasted any wines from The Sorting Table on 7th  and if so, why didn’t I write about them? I admit, I am remiss in the time it took me to get these words out to you. Hence, Part 2! Wonderful Wines.

Yes, I tasted wines from Josh V’s Sorting Table, but it began with a challenge.  When I asked Josh for brilliant, funky, Napa blends he asked me back specifics as he handed me bottle after bottle starting from $15 and up to $50, all of which fell in that category and every one I wanted to try. So I kept asking, and tried several bottles to take notes for you, my fair readers.

And try I did. I tasted several wines from his store, and here they are in no particular order:

Salmon Vineyard’s 2011 Petite Syrah

R petite syrah

 

Deliciously wonderful, a wine that changed on the palate with every sip! I could not put this down. Amazing small-format winemaking- could rate in the company of Jason Moore and David Phinney, for $25/bottle. Paired this with an organic margarita pizza and thought that heaven could not be closer to my mouth. Deep purple in color, thick and viscous, jammy fruit with nice acidity, tart tannins, and an amazing finish. YUM!

Bennett Lane 2008 Maximum Red Feasting Wine

Maximus

94 points.  The ruby-purple color and blackberry nose entice you until the massive mouthfeel hits you: blackberry, cassis, and plum start off the tongue this mind-blowing red blend, and is followed with a slew of fabulous notes including mocha, truffle, chocolate, and cedar barrel to sate the palate of the serious wine guru for under $40. I’m buying more. ‘Nuff said!

Satisfied with red wine options, I took a different path. “Old world, yet affordable chardonnay that champions the grape,” I challenged. Two bottles appeared, and I chose:

Chateau de la Greffiere Macon La Roche “Vielle Vignes” Vineuse 2011

Macon La ROche

An amazing chardonnay from 50 year old vines for under $20. Stellar pricing for serious structure, I almost thought I could taste the vines standing in the clay underneath the perfectly aged chardonnay grape. Classic old world white!

Patient Cottat ‘s Le Grand Caillou Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Calliou

Chardonnay accepted, I asked for Sancerre, and Josh showed me three, then said- “what about a Sancerre that isn’t technically a Sancerre?” He pulled up a Sauv Blanc from the Loire Valley, outside of the lines that delineate Sancerre but one taste will show you how a half-price wine can blow away the competition. I knew this was the one I’d take. This is one of the best high value/low cost offerings in French wine you may ever see.  $12/bottle, and simply delectable. I’d love to see this in a blind tasting against “legit” sancerre!

Les Crêtes Valle D’Aosta Chardonnay 2011

Cretes

After pulling the sancerre out of his proverbial hat, I said “what is the best value white burgundy you have?” He riled thru a pair of wine fridges and pulled this lone bottle out along with a cheshire cat grin. And was he right? Spot on! This was a delicious, un-oaked white Burgundy-styled-white that impressed my palate with depth. Gentle tropical melon and floral notes in the mouth are followed by bright acidity, and find a finish with luscious terroir of sandy clay with a hint of chalk. Rich and delightful, savory yet taut, and drinks like an 80/bottle for under $40. I drank this with goat cheese on a fig cracker and ooh’d my way through every bite and sip.

Check, and mate! Perhaps in Josh’s world, I should try something akin to:

“R2 says the chances of survival are 725… to one” – C3PO, STAR WARS

à votre santé!

Friday Night Whites

11 May

From the “What I’m Tasting Right Now” files:

Moillard Bourgogne Tradition Chardonnay Bourgogne 2009

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A basic white burgundy I found while trolling wine shops near Columbus Circle. Color is deep straw. Nose has citrus and a touch of oak. In the mouth, a basic chardonnay, some fruit, a little cream as it warmed plus the classic wood finish as expected, but sadly there is little else of note here. I know that Maison Moillard was purchased in 2008 and is a huge producer but I had high expectations from this vintage. Perhaps as the second or third wine from this producer, my expectations were too high. $14/ half bottle (.375 litre).

Cupcake Vineyards Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2011

After a dozen mentions from my wine friends & followers, I took the plunge and tasted several Cupcake wines. I found most of them good, solid values. I recently picked up a bottle locally to try over several days with different food pairings, here are the results:

Color: light straw. Nose: lemon, grapefruit, sweat. (Really. Don’t stick your nose in and drink the bouquet without being ready for a little underarm funk on the end. Sniff gently and enjoy.) In the mouth, tons of grapefruit, with a little key lime sweet & tartness, more tight, tart lemon on the finish. Nice acidity, this is a lovely apertif on a hot day, pairs beautifully with light appetizers- fresh fish or sashimi, salads, veggies- and just strong enough to work with asian or eastern entrée flavors. It cut through and cleaned the palate beautifully when tasted after castello blue cheese. But keep the wine cold or it loses some of its delight. For $11 this screwcap wine is a good value, and one you can trust will please your friends but won’t break the bank. Here’s a link to Cupcake Vineyards if you want to find out more.

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I leave you with my usual toast, and a picture from my friends Charles and Lynnette, who shared the picture below.

à votre santé!

Sante Wine

Dürnberg Sparking Rosé

1 Mar

Dürnberg Sparkling Rosé

This sparkling rosé was part of the 10 Wines Under $10 package I got from Astor Wines.  I opened it with my wife during the Academy Awards. Pink in color without a discernable nose, it is very light on the palate with some nice strawberry and orange peel, without being too noticeably dry or sweet. In short, we enjoyed it. From Falkenstein, Austria, this is a good value and a tasty option to champagne, prosecco, and other sparkling wines.

Durnberg

Here are links to the Durnberg website, as well as their direct sales page.

à votre santé!

 

GNO Wines (Guys Night Out)

27 Feb

Everyone deserves a night off. Whether it is from the job, spouse, kids, whatever- we all need a break from time to time. As a husband and father I have come to cherish a night with the guys- (be it dinner, drinks,  cards, a movie, game night, whatever) or the rare ‘mancation’  every few years with my closest buddies from high school.  Your night off may be with other couples, a Girls Night Out, date night, or maybe even a night alone. In our modern 24/7 mentality, any time that you get to have a break from the daily monotony is now a special occasion. And fortunately, a special occasion deserves a nice wine.

For a recent wintery GNO, I put together a crudité and some steamed edamame as appetizers, with a beef stew in a smoky garlic base served with hunks of baguette as the main course. To pair with these courses, I brought two wines: Chateau Grand Ormeau, a Lalande de Pomerol ’06, and an ’05 Reserve de la Comtesse Pauillac.

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The 2006 Chateau Grand Ormeau has a bit of a down-home Bordeaux feel to it. Ruby color and a plummy nose with a touch of rose, the palate features gentle cassis and ripe plums with some herbal spices, oak, and a touch of schist in the medium finish.  ($22/Mayfair Wine)

The Reserve De La Comtesse 2005 was the star of this meal. This second wine of Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a lovely Pauillac I have come to rely on and it did not fail to deliver. With a smooth, refined balance, the deep purplish black color is a great temptation but we opened and let it breathe for an hour before tasting. The nose of black fruit, bittersweet chocolate and tobacco leaf  leads to the palate of muted blackberry, red plum, graphite, earth and limestone with a lengthy finish. Not as concentrated or massive as the first wine, but very nicely done. I found the Reserve de la Comtesse at Park Avenue Liquor for $55/bottle.

My next GNO wines will probably be in the under -$11/bottle range, but for this get together, it was a great pairing and no regrets.

à votre santé!

 

Cornaro Veneto Pinot Grigio 2011

8 Feb

Cantina Montelliana e Dei’s Cornaro Veneto Pinot Grigio 2011. $7/bottle from Astor wine.

Who drinks white wine in winter? Lots of people do. Wines aren’t about season, they are about pairing. Sometimes in the coldest weather, I still want a splash of a white wine to pair with a fruit or vegetable,  a piece of cheese, a warm roll, or as an aperitif.

Here’s a nice budget white to have in your cellar or fridge year-round. Inexpensive (actually, cheap at that price!) with a greenish pale straw color and an herbal nose that has hints and lemon. The mouthfeel is fresh, gentle, delicate: green apple, wildflower, lemon finish. I’d serve this very cold as an opening salvo, or with a delicate course to cleanse the palate, especially with gently flavored fish, produce, or pasta, where you want to feature the dish, not the wine.

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Nice, soft balance (not tart, crisp, savory or rich), it can fade away easily or, upon being considered, swish around the palate leaving a medium finish with a pleasant memory.  A perfect party white for your wedding, corporate luncheon, or cocktail party when you don’t want or need to spend $20+/bottle when this will do a great job. With bulk pricing, this wine is a caterer’s dream– all is needs is to change the synthetic cork to a screwcap, it’s ready to feature the food it is served with.

More information about the winemakers via link here. For the wine, here is the direct link to the Cornaro Veneto Pinot Grigio.

à votre santé!

Orin Swift’s Abstract 2011

23 Jan

Abstract Wine 2011 Red Blend by Orin Swift Cellars, Napa, CA

Deep violet color with ruby edging. The nose is plum with hints of wildflowers, cedar, clove, and anise. Huge fruit initially on the palate: raspberry, blackberry, with a slow finish that features gravel and peppercorns. After that initial taste, I decanted a glass and was quite pleased with the way the wine opened up, pushing the fruit back and introducing structure and balance that was previously absent. Decanting also allowed me to detect additional floral and red fruit in the nose, a touch of cacao and oak on the wine’s finish along with some welcome tannins. As always I suggest you drink responsibly, noting this wine features a high alcohol content at 15.2%.

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The bottle states “Red Blend” and I noted it tasted like syrah and grenache with a small amount of cabernet. The Orin Swift website says it “is a blend of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah primarily from hillside vineyards.” As you might guess from my notes above, I highly suggest decanting. Found locally in Columbus, OH at $29/bottle, online as low as $23/bottle. I enjoyed this wine over several days after decanting, but preferred Swift’s Papillon even more. David Phinney is a winemaker to follow and watch, his work is fascinating, unusual, and delicious.

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à votre santé!

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