Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Monday, November 12, 2018

Holiday Wine: Sémillon In Loupiac

Loupiac is a region in France's Bordeaux region, north of Sauternes and the Garonne River.  It is also an appellation exclusive to sweet, golden dessert wines made largely from Sémillon grapes.  Sweet white wine is not everyone's cup, but anyone who likes a good dessert and a good glass of wine should not object to having them in the same serving.  However, sweet Bordeaux wines are for more than dessert.  Start a meal with them, an aperitif, or pair them with your main courses.  Try to pair sweet wines with something salty or savory for a great balance.

Thanksgiving is a great time to start a love affair with sweet Bordeaux wines.  Have them with the pumpkin pie, sure, but try it with the turkey and ham, too.  You'll be surprised at the pairing.

Sweet Bordeaux US and Snooth put on a virtual tasting awhile back of a nice selection of Sauternes wines, and I was lucky enough to be included.  Hosted by Snooth's co-founder and chief taster Mark Angelillo and wine educator Fred Swan, the event drew raves from those who participated in it. Swan, especially, won kudos all around for his vast knowledge.

One participant, Jim Vanbergen, commented on social media that salty foods are tremendous with sweet wines - not only Sauternes, but also Port, Alsace, Icewine and others.

Château Dauphiné Rondillon Loupiac 

The Darriet family runs Château Dauphiné Rondillon in Loupiac, a region in Bordeaux which specializes in sweet Sémillon wines.  This one is 80% Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc rounding out the blend.  The grapes are harvested late, so their sugar content is maximized.  It's a 13% abv wine and it sells for $28.

The vintners say they like to serve their wine as an aperitif, but they also recommend it with salty, savory foods.  Blue cheese is a particular favorite.

This is a sweet wine that doesn't play that way.  The wine smells of honey and dried apricots.  It comes off as more savory than sweet, and that's reinforced on the palate.  The acidity is fairly lively, too, so you can pair with foods, particularly a blue cheese.  On social media, Deborah Parker Wong said that she got smoke and minerals on the finish, too.




Monday, August 20, 2018

Mad About Madiran Wine

Château Peyros is the southernmost property in the Madiran region of Gascony, in France's far southwest corner.  The property's name reportedly comes from an ancient word meaning "rocky location."  That's only fair considering the large stones that were left by a previous tenant, the ice age.  Jean Jacques Lesgourgues bought and restored the estate in 1999.  The estate's clay and limestone soil contains Tannat and Cabernet Franc grapes, which are farmed sustainably.  A herd of sheep serve as lawn mowers and fertilization experts. 

The 2013 Château Peyros Vieilles Vignes wine is a blend of 80% Tannat and 20% Cabernet Franc.  The grapes came from vines between 40 and 50 years old.  The wine spent about 12 months in oak barrels - 40% new - before being bottled.  It's not only a powerful wine, as Tannat is wont to be, it's reportedly one of the healthier wines, too.  Tannat grapes apparently have lots of procyanidins, said to be good for keeping blood pressure and cholesterol low. 

The wine is imported by Baron François of New York City.  It hits 13% abv and sells for less than $20 in most places.

This dark, dark wine smells of tobacco and tar, with a blackberry backbeat.  On the palate, you've got some strong tannins - to be expected from an 80% Tannat wine - and flavors of plum made savory, as if the plum skin is included.  If you want a wine to pair with a big, fatty steak, here ya go. Decant before enjoying with a meal of substance, like beef, duck or a hearty stew.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

43-Year-Old Rivesaltes Dessert Wine

The Terrasous aged sweet wine series features a range of their natural sweet wines that have been aged for at least six years. This one hails from 1974. The wine is fortified to 16% abv and sells for about $75. That’s for a nice, full-sized wine bottle, too, not a little "sweet wine" size.

The 1974 Vin Doux Naturel is made of  Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc grapes grown in southern France's Rivesaltes region of Roussillon, just north of Spain and west of the Balearic Sea.  It's surely sweet, but with the beautiful tart edge that makes dessert wine so approachable and food friendly. The more age these wines have, the more character they show. Pair with pastries or enjoy on its own as an aperitif or a finale.

This 43-year-old white dessert wine is whiskey dark, even darker, maybe. The nose brings buckets of raisins and brown sugar, with baking spices - it smells like the bottom of an upside-down cake. It's fairly viscous and tastes of sweet spices and raisiny fruit, with an awesome acidity still working.


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Monday, July 10, 2017

Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay 2015

The venerable Jadot winery was established in 1859, but the family was digging around in the Burgundy soil a good 30 years before that. His Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay is ubiquitous. I'm convinced some people think Jadot is French for Chardonnay.

The Louis Jadot Macon-Villages comes from the Mâcconais region in the southern part of Burgundy, a place of limestone-rich soil, just made for Chardonnay. The Mâcon-Villages appellation consists of more than 40 different communes which provide grapes for the Jadot wine.

The wine is predictably high-quality, 100% Chardonnay, vinified without the use of oak. Clean and lean, the citrus and mineral notes come through vividly. Refreshing acidity, only 13% abv. Drink up.


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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Drink Pink: Château De Campuget Rosé

Spring is official now, although it may not feel like it yet where you are.  In Southern California, the shading between seasons is not so dramatic as it is elsewhere, but we still know when it feels like a rosé.  Yes, it feels like a rosé pretty much all the time.  Look for some great rosé wines to be featured under the "Drink Pink" heading on Now And Zin Wine as we work our way towards summer.

We grabbed a friend recently to introduce her to Della Terra, a great Italian restaurant on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles.  My meal was heightened the 2012 Château de Campuget rosé.

Château de Campuget has been around for nearly 400 years in the southern Rhône Valley, specifically the Costières-de-Nimes region.  The Campuget property has plenty of the round stones for which the Rhône is known, the stones worn smooth by their glacial trip southward.  The estate also gets their share of the Mistral winds which strafe the French countryside and make it necessary to train the vines low to the ground..

The 2012 vintage was dry and sunny in the southern Rhône, with drought conditions actually affecting some areas.  Those vines had to send their roots deep through the rocks to seek out water in the clay soil far below.  Such work tempers fruit and bestows upon the grapes a higher level of intensity.

This salmon-colored wine is made up of 70% Syrah grapes and 30% Grenache, and it is a fairly serious rosé.  The fun is not lost here, but the wine definitely shows up ready to get down to business.  It costs $12 by the glass at Della Terra.  Online, I saw it offered for as low as eight bucks per bottle.

The nose of the 2012 Château de Campuget rosé is garden-fresh.  Strawberry, watermelon and cherry aromas are dusted with a light touch of anise and just a trace of funk.  The mouthfeel is notable for the mouthwatering acidity this wine brings to the table.  Bright cherry and strawberry flavors are also quite fresh, and the minerality is outstanding.  A great finish of melon and minerals lingers on the tongue.

Pairing Château de Campuget with seafood worked extremely well.  It was a hit with Della Terra's crab cakes, octopus salad and shrimp risotto.


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Monday, July 1, 2013

French Wine: Vin de Pays

Viognier pairs well with Indian food, so I ordered the Domaine Pennautier Viognier, Vin de Pays, France 2011, to go with aloo gobi.

The Pennautier château has reportedly been in the Lorgeril family since the time of Louis XIII, 1620 to be exact.  Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril are the tenth generation to make wine there.  The estate is in the northern part of the Languedoc region, near the town of Carcassonne in the south of France.

Vin de pays means "country wine.”  These wines occupy a spot in the French wine classification system just above the table wine, but below the AOC level.  The classification allows vignerons to classify wines that were made using grape varieties other than those required by the AOC rules.  It keeps a winemaker from having his wine relegated to vins de table status.  There are six Vins de Pays regions in France, the largest being Vin de Pays d'Oc, which is in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  Pennautier Viognier is grown and made.

The wine cost $8 by the glass at Santa Monica’s Pradeep on Montana, convenient to the Aero Theater.  It has an alcohol content of 13% abv.  The blurb on the menu promised a fragrant nose, which did not materialize for me.  It was served very cold and in a small, narrow glass - there just wasn't much there.  Plus, it is an Indian restaurant.  Conditions would have to be optimal for a wine's bouquet to overcome the atmosphere of spices.

On the palate, the Domaine Pennautier is lush and fresh with a touch of herbal notes mixing with the flavor of peach.  It's a good wine, and it paired nicely with the aloo gobi and its wonderful array of spices.


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Monday, September 24, 2012

Domaine des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009


Wine produced in France’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape region of the Rhone Valley always tastes like something special.  Domaine des Sénéchaux dates all the way back to the 1300s.  It’s the oldest in the appellation, which is saying a lot.

The Domaine’s red wine is made from 90% Grenache, 5% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre, with some other varieties possibly blended in with the Mourvédre.  It is aged for 12 to 15 months in used French oak.

The wine gives a deep purple appearance in the glass, with brick around the edges.  The nose is amazing - cassis, lilac, cedar box, wood spice and a meaty note combine for a very complex bouquet.  The palate shows great grip and acidity, with flavors of dark fruit, tobacco and peppery spices.  The power of this wine is fully apparent upon the first sip.

Sénéchaux, by the way, refers to Middle Ages judicial administrators in southern France.  In the northern part of the country, they would have been bailiwicks.

This wine was provided for review by Wine Chateau, an online retailer based in New Jersey.  They have been offering the $66 wine at $35 recently - quite a deal.


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Monday, September 17, 2012

Chapoutier Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2010


Michel Chapoutier’s wines from France's Languedoc-Roussillon region take great advantage of the earth found there.  Chapoutier credits the black and brown schist with holding the sun’s warmth.  He says the gneiss provides the minerality, while limestone and chalk soils add strength and balance.

The Bila-Haut wine is made from Syrah, Grenache and Carignane grapes grown “on the slopes of the high Agly Valley,” according to the winemaker notes.  They are hand-harvested and completely destemmed.

The wine gives a medium dark hue, very deep red in the glass.  The nose shows black cherry and anise, with a rustic sagebrush aroma also coming through.  The palate is full of dark fruit, with an earthy background.  It’s just a bit on the tart side, with a nice, long finish that has blackberry and black cherry cola lingering.  You get a lot from each of the grapes, which is always a nice find in a blend.

This wine was provided for review by Wine Chateau, an online retailer.  Regularly, it sells for $26 and has recently been on sale for $14.  Not bad for a wine rated 94 by Parker.


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Domaine de Valmoissine 2007


My wife and I were out and about, flitting from one Sunday chore to another.  A lot of people find it tedious to spend a Sunday shopping - at the grocery.  We manage to get endless enjoyment from the simple things we do.  I got a great deal on a California Zinfandel in the wine department, and was sending out a message about it on Twitter (@randyfuller1, in case you're interested.)  My wife found me and asked what I was doing.  "Tweeting about this Ravenswood," I answered.  She rolled her eyes and began searching for the perfect pineapple.


Later we drove to the Westside and stopped into a discount wine place that is actually located in a storage facility.  Yeah, they've got a roll-up front door.  They also have some great prices.  And no, not everything my wife and I do has to do with wine.  She bought plenty of non-wine things at Ralph's.


Anyway, by the sheer fluke of timing we ran into a couple we know.  They were also wine shopping at this little place, and we enjoyed our brief visit at the checkout stand.  Nicolas is very knowledgeable about wine, and we made dinner plans and talked about the purchases he was making.  They left, and we went in, me asking my wife what she thought we should buy.  "Get that French wine Nicolas was buying."  To cut a long story off at the point probably just after you doze off, we did.  To no one's surprise, it was a good choice.


The Bottle:  A classic Burgundy bottle contains a Pinot Noir from the Vin de Pays des Côteaux de Verdun appellation.  After tasting it, I feel this is under billed as a "red table wine."  13.5% abv.  I purchased this at a Los Angeles discount shop for the pittance of $10.  A steal.


The Nose:  There's a lovely purple color with a red tint at the edges.  A sniff of the glass reveals a dark and earthy nose.  Quite a wonderful cherry fragrance.  My wife and I collaborated on the nose and decided it was cherries and blackberries on the forest floor, trod upon, with some wet stones thrown in for substance.


The Taste:  Soft tannins and a very well-rounded feel in the mouth make this wine feel right at home on the palate.  The fruit is right up front and loaded with ripe flavors of cherry and berries.  It's a very smooth wine.