Showing posts with label Pinot Meunier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pinot Meunier. Show all posts

Monday, May 10, 2021

Angels & Cowboys Wine

Share a Splash Wine Company was founded in 2006 as Cannonball.  Yoav Gilat's idea was to make great wines and sell them for less than $20.  Today, Cannonball is joined by ELEVEN, Angels and Cowboys, Astrolabe Wines and High Dive Napa Valley as a full portfolio for the Healdsburg-based outfit.

Head winemaker Ondine Chattan is a female veteran in a business which has been dominated by males. Her time in the California wine industry has seen her getting purple hands at Cline, Ridge Vineyards and for 18 years at Geyser Peak prior to joining Share A Splash.  She is a California native who takes a hands-on approach to winemaking, educated at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State.  She is proud of her spring releases, and she says they show the bright fruit flavors for which her home state is famous.

Angels & Cowboys Brut Rosé NV

This all-California sparkler is made in the traditional method of secondary fermentation, using traditional Champagne grapes - 73% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Meunier.  The fruit comes not, of course, from Burgundy but from Mendocino and Sonoma counties.  The non-vintage bubbly is in it first release, with 2,500 cases made, at 12% abv and a retail price of $24.

This wine shows a light tint in the glass and offers a nose of apples, cherries and fresh bread.  The palate comes on with a racy acidity, fine bubbles and an earthy take on raspberry and citrus.  The wine's finish is lengthy and quite enjoyable.


Angels & Cowboys Sonoma County Rosé
2020

This Grenache-based rosé was made in a traditional style called "œil de perdrix," meaning partridge's eye in French, a reference to the pale pink color of the dying bird's eye.  It is more commonly called Vin Gris - grey wine - and is made with very little skin contact for a more delicate style and hue.  Alcohol tips 12.5% abv and the retail sticker reads $16.

This wine is tinted a very pale pink in the glass, as one might expect from a rosé of Provence, not Sonoma.  The nose presents a beautiful basket of ripe cherries and strawberries, with a smokey hint just above the glass.  The acidity is nice and fresh, but not exactly razor-sharp.  On the palate, the red fruit dominates, and gets a little help from a lightly tart citrus effect.  The medium finish is pretty and fruity.


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Friday, March 29, 2019

Michigan Rosé

"From wine what sudden friendship springs."  British author John Gay wrote that, likely for his book entitled, "Wine," but I like him for writing his own epitaph, which is carved into his Westminster Abbey resting place: "Life is a jest, and all things show it, I thought so once, and now I know it."

The former quote today floats across the website for Hawthorne Vineyards, on Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula.  Founder Bruce Hawthorne and his wife have deep roots in northern Michigan and planted a vineyard through their interest in agriculture.

The locals call it paradise on a peninsula.  Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula wine region sticks out of the northwestern edge of the state’s main body into Lake Michigan.  It's a 19-mile spit which juts northward and forms the east and west sides of Grand Traverse Bay.  It's only four miles wide at its broadest point.  The blue waters surrounding the land are some 600 feet deep, which produces what they call a "lake effect."  That protects the vines with snow in winter, slows bud break in spring to avoid frost damage, and extends the growing season by up to four weeks.

Winemaker Brian Hosmer turns the grapes into wine, which the Hawthornes label as their passion.  They say the grapes are a product of the 26-acre vineyard's complete terroir, from the soil to the climate to the plot's proximity to the lake.  From their tasting room's beautiful porch guests can see the blue water of Grand Traverse Bay's West Arm.

Hawthorne's 2016 Rosé is made using the saignée method, in which the juice is bled from the newly-crushed grapes.  The blend reportedly includes 40% Cabernet Franc, 26% Pinot Meunier, 13% Merlot, 12% Pinot Noir, and 9% Gamay.  It hits 13.2% abv and goes for $12 a bottle.

This wine looks, smells and tastes like an elegant Pinot Noir despite the fact that the grapes gets fourth billing.  Cabernet Franc, Pinot Meunier and Merlot lead the way, with Gamay bringing up the rear.  The color is very strong for a rosé, and the Meunier brings a note of Champagne to the mix while the Cab Franc is pronounced on the palate.  This drinks like a red wine without the tannic structure.  It's very pleasant and leaves a bit of tea on the finish.  Quite nice.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

South African Bubbles

Since the 1960s, Simonsig has been producing wine from South Africa's Stellenbosch region. 
This one, Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé, was intended for sampling by Valentine's Day.  Well, bubbles are still a good idea no matter what time of year it is.  Bubbles every day for the rest of 2018!  Go for it.

This South African bubbly hits the Pinot trifecta: 63% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinotage and 2% Pinot Meunier.  Pinotage is South Africa's leading red wine grape. According to Wikipedia, it was bred there in 1925 by by Abraham Izak Perold.  It's a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, which was known as "Hermitage" in South Africa back then.  The sparkler is made in the méthode cap classique, which is basically how Champagne is made in France, with bottle fermentation.

Winemaker Johan Malan says 2015 was a warm vintage in which the grapes were picked about two weeks ahead of schedule.  Alcohol is a low 12.1% abv and it sells online for about $25.

The wine bubbles up vigorously, but the festive nature disappears quickly.  The nose is earthy, but fairly muted in that respect and in that of the red fruit.  Palate-wise, the wine disappoints a bit.  It does have a tasty, savory flavor and a nice shot of acidity, but I wanted a little more fruit expression.  Maybe I should stop complaining and just enjoy what is a thoroughly drinkable, but slightly underwhelming bubbly.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Jacquart Champagne

As October turned toward trick-or-treat, I was treated to a small tasting of Champagnes from Jacquart of Riems, France.  The tasting took place at one of my favorite Los Angeles cheese shops, Artisan Cheese Gallery on Ventura Boulevard, so the treats were plenty.  Mrs. Now And Zin sent me there with instructions to enjoy the tasting and don’t come home empty-handed.

Jacquart’s head winemaker, Floriane Eznack, was quoted in The Drinks Business when she joined the house in 2011, “My role is not to make a big change but to define the style and stick to it.”   The style, as she defines it, is smooth and textured, with a focus on bright acidity.

The Mosaic Collection was introduced to mark Jacquart’s 50th anniversary.  It’s a fine tribute to the house, if the three wines I tasted are an indication.  Any - or all - will be welcome at holiday festivities of any sort.

Floriane Eznack, photo courtesy maison.com
The Brut Mosaique sports some flinty toast aromas along with apples and pears. Three grapes are used, Chardonnay (35-40%), Pinot Noir (35-40%) and Pinot Meunier (25-35%). There is a minimum of 20% reserve wine in the mix, which receives a light dosage and more than three years of aging.  Flavors are toasty, with apples and lime zest leading to a rich, long finish.  It’s the flagship Jacquart cuvée.

For the Jacquart Rosé Mosaique, Pinot Noir - vinified as a red wine - brings the color and structure, while Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier play their roles, too.  This pretty wine brings a funky, toasty quality on the nose, with red fruit smelling very nice.  Great acidity makes the sip quite refreshing, while flavors of toasty cherries and strawberries are a delight.

The Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 2006 vintage shows apple and citrus on the nose, with a lovely palate of lemon peel and a slight hint of toast.  All Chardonnay, the wine leaves me wanting more, with a beautiful expression of creme brûlée on the finish.


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Sunday, June 12, 2011

ROYAL FAMILY PLANS TO MAKE SPARKLING WINE


Wine News

The British royal family has certainly consumed enough sparkling wine - now they plan to make their own.  TheTelegraph reports that the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, is closely involved in a project to plant new vines of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in a section of Windsor Great Park.  The intention is to produce a royal sparkling wine.

The English wine industry is looking at this development as a huge boon.  According to the article, English wine had a banner year in 2010 with more than four million bottles of wine produced in England.

Master of Wine and viticultural consultant Stephen Skelton is also involved in the project, according to the Telegraph.  He planted the first vines at Chapel Downs in 1976.  Chapel Downs is now Britain's biggest wine producer.

Vineyards require three years to produce wine grapes, so there will be a wait for the royal vintages to start rolling out.  The Telegraph observes that many hope it will be a royal sparkling wine which is hoisted in toasts at the next royal wedding.


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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CHANDON RESERVE PINOT NOIR BRUT AT THE HOSTILE GRAPE, M RESORT, LAS VEGAS


Chandon Reserve Pinot Noir Brut

Fans of old-school Las Vegas remember fondly the $1.99 meals which, at one time, were prevalent in Sin City.  They were quite popular at a time when the casinos felt the need to throw a loss-leader out there to attract gamblers.
Nowadays, they have figured out the gamblers will be there no matter how much the meal costs.  In fact, Las Vegas has become quite the big ticket attraction in the opulent gambling palaces on The Strip.  Chefs of world renown have restaurants in every one of the glitzy hotels where $1.99 isn't likely to buy an iced tea, much less a meal.
When I visited the M Resort - a bit south of The Strip proper - I saw that their wine bar and cellar, The Hostile Grape, was advertising $2 sparkling wine on one particular evening.  Spying a way to enjoy a little wine break without tapping too heavily into the all-important gambling money, I decided to check out the offer.  It was my personal version of the $1.99 meal.
To the credit of The Hostile Grape, they were not lowballing the selection.  It wasn't Moet et Chandon, but it was Chandon, the California arm of the noted French Champagne house.
Chandon's Reserve Pinot Noir Brut was the $2 choice that night.  It's not a top-shelf sparkler, but it carries a little more prestige than Tott's.  Made from grapes that are 53% Napa County, 47% Sonoma County, this sparkler figures out to 76% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Meunier.  That's the math.  Now, let's taste.
A pale golden color in the glass, the bubbles are quite fine and plentiful.  A wonderfully funky little nose shows yeasty apples.  The Febreze Factor that afflicts the rest of the hotel is not so prevalent down in the wine cellar.  A creamy palate is no doubt due to the minimum of three years spent on yeast.  Toast and earthy notes prevail, with almonds and custard very faint on the finish.
The wine was a hit with me - so big a hit, I went right upstairs and had a winning session at the blackjack table, finishing $10 up!  That's enough for several more glasses of their nice $2 sparkler.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne NV Brut



Denise and I opened a small bottle of Feuillatte "1/4" I had picked up recently.  I've seen it in various stores this season, usually near the checkout stand as a point-of-purchase item.  The bottle is only 187ml, so I suppose they are marketing them as stocking stuffers.  Neither of us drink a lot of sparkling wine, so the size was great for us to just sample it.  It pours out to about a flute and a half.  I've seen it listed at $10, but I got it for $4 at a sale.  As you can see in the image, there is also a rose version.

 We wanted to pair the Feuillatte with some cheeses we had picked up at the Beverly Hills Cheese Shop and Andrew's Cheese Shop in Santa Monica.  It was a chilly night, the Christmas tree was fully lit and decorated and White Christmas was on TV.  A perfect night for some Champagne and cheese.

Feuillatte is the number-one selling brand of Champagne in France and number-three worldwide.  They are now being distributed in the U.S. by Washington's Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.  To say Feuillatte is a large producer is an understatement.  From the press release: "With the support of its 5,000 wine growers, the Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte benefits from an extensive and rich supply of quality grapes, representing 7% of the Champagne wines produced."  

The grapes used in this bottling are 20% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 40% Pinot Meunier.  There is an extremely yeasty nose, almost barnyard-like in funkiness.  The mouthfeel is full and creamy with plenty of small bubbles which persist for a long time after pouring.  There's a lemon zest component and the flavor of almonds.  The wine gives me the feeling of ginger ale.

The Feuillatte went very well with the creamy Minuet cheese by Andante Dairy.  The dairy recommends a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray or a Gruner Veltliner, but this Champagne was quite serviceable with it.  It fit even better with Truffle Tremor cheese by Cypress Grove Chevre out of Arcata, CA.  The real discovery of the night was finding that the Truffle Tremor went great - scratch that - fantastic with Liqueur de Chataigne, or chestnut liqueur.