Showing posts with label Ugni Blanc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ugni Blanc. Show all posts

Monday, May 23, 2022

White Wine From Bordeaux

Dry white wines are in their prime spot now that spring is here and summer is upon us.  Places like Spain's Rias Baixas region or France's Rhône Valley come to mind immediately.  However, the Bordeaux region is also becoming as known for its white wines as for its reds.

There are 12 AOCs for dry whites in BDX, with eight main grape varieties in use.  Two recently approved varieties - Alvarinho and Liliorila - coming into play thanks to climate change.  The Portuguese Alvarinho grape is known in northwestern Spain as Albarino, while Liliorila is a cross of Baroque and Chardonnay.  Both have strong aromatics, which is an area that suffers as the climate warms.

Château Moulin de Launay produces a great white wine at a very reasonable price.  It is from the Entre-Deux-Mers area of Bordeaux, situated between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.  Red wines are made here, too, but only the whites carry the Entre-Deux-Mers AOC.  

Moulin de Launay's Entre-Deux-Mers Les Ailes d'Or is made from five different grapes - 35% Sémillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Muscadelle, 20% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Ugni Blanc.  Alcohol tips in at 12.5% abv and a bottle can be had in most places for around $15.

This white Bordeaux wine has a subdued nose, but traces of stone fruit and citrus do come through the mineral curtain.  The palate is also laced with minerals and citrus, with a nice touch of salinity to add to the waterside connotation of the region's name.  The acidity is fresh and zippy enough for a salad, some vegetables or a seafood dish.  

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A White Wine For An Al Fresco Lunch

One of life's great pleasures is having a lunch outdoors when the winter weather starts turning warm for spring.  It works in reverse, too.  We had a wonderful lunch recently when the temperatures in Southern California dropped enough to make it comfortable on a dining patio.  In each case, a good white wine is mandatory - for me, anyway.

The Alexandre Sirech 2019 Les Deux Terroirs is a white wine blend, made from 70% Colombard, 20% Ugni Blanc and 10% Gros Manseng.  These are grapes that most people probably don't get to taste very often, if at all.  Colombard was originally used in France in the making of Cognac.

These grapes were grown in the Gironde region of Bordeaux and the Côtes de Gascogne in Southwest France.  The winery says that one of the vineyards is on a gravelly plateau overlooking the Pyrenees Mountains.  No oak was used in the making of the wine, alcohol tips 11.5% abv and it sells for $22 a bottle where I live.

This lightly tinted, greenish wine brings a nose that is heavy on the minerals, with citrus and a slight floral aspect.  The aroma is dominated by a beautiful savory sense.  The palate is mineral-laden, and has a flinty salinity and a savory finish.  The nice acidity makes it a great wine to pair with seafood.  I had mine with a lovely quiche Lorraine at Monsiour Marcel’s in L.A.’s Farmers Market.  My wife loved it and immediately wanted to make a cocktail with it, using Creme de Cassis.  We may just do that.  

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Friday, December 14, 2018

Unusual White Blend From France's Southwest

France's Côtes de Gascogne region is in the southwest part of the country, in the Armagnac region, and is known as Gascony in English.  There is forest to the west, then the Atlantic Ocean; the Pyrenees Mountains, then Spain to south.  Various combinations of clay, limestone, sand and silt make up the soils.

The Gascogne wines are mostly white, with only ten percent red and ten percent rosé.  Winemakers can choose from more than 300 different grape varieties, but most common are the white Colombard, Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.  Red grapes include Tannat, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Seventy-five percent of the Gascogne wines are made for export.  Look to this region for dry, crisp, refreshing, aromatic whites.

Côtes de Gascogne, Eclat, 2017, Blanc

Domaine de Joÿ is a four-generation winery in the Armagnac region of Gascogne.  Veronique and André Gessler now have sons sons Roland and Olivier involved in the business.  The 2017 Eclat is a dry white blend that clocks in at 12% abv and sells for about ten bucks.

This lovely white wine combines the best of what, to me, are less than appealing grapes.  You get Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc in this Gascogne blend.  It shows a beautiful golden tint and smells of citrus, most notably grapefruit.  There's also some wet rock minerality along for the ride and a soapy savory note.  The palate gives a broader citrus flavor and, again, plenty of minerals.  Acidity is fresh, but not too tingly.  The finish fades fairly fast, but it's great while it lasts.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The White Wines Of Southwestern France

The Côtes de Gascogne region is in the southwest of France, in the Armagnac region, and is known as Gascony in English. There is forest to the west, then the Atlantic Ocean; the Pyrenees Mountains, then Spain to south. Various combinations of clay, limestone, sand and silt make up the soils.

The Gascogne wines are mostly white, with only ten percent red and ten percent rosé. The white grapes are Colombard, Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.  Red grapes include Tannat, Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon. 75% of the Gascogne wines are made for export. Look here for dry, crisp, refreshing, aromatic whites.

The following wines were provided to me as samples for the purpose of this article.

Domaine San de Guilhem resides in the village of Ramouzens in the eastern portion of the Bas-Armanac region. Alain Lalanne is the fourth generation to work the soil of this land and bring forward the potential of the fruit of its vines. When his father retired in 1970, Armagnac was all they produced, a brandy distilled from wine made of the region's grapes. At that time they faced a declining demand for Armagnac and decided - along with the other growers in the region - to turn their grapes into wine rather than spirits. Lalanne was among the first in Gascogne to plant Gros Manseng, which adds a nice balance to their white wines. It is not an easy grape to coax from the ground. As Lalanne puts it, “Gros Manseng does not accommodate hot summers, the smallest hailstone ruins it. Nevertheless, what class!  Powerful in alcohol, strong in acidity, long in the mouth with persistent aromatics, it transcends the Côtes de Gascogne.”

This wine is made from the main grapes of Gascogne, 40% Colombard, 30% Gros Manseng and 30% Ugni Blanc. It is Lalanne’s main product, although he still makes a bit of Armagnac, too.

This refreshing white has a very nice nose of tropical fruit and citrus, towing minerals along behind it.  The aromas are made even lovelier by a slight floral scent.   Great minerals appear on the palate with a twist of lime and fabulous acidity.  There is a hint of oak - just a hint - and the finish has a bit of salinity on it.  It's zingy and refreshing, perfect for spring and summer sips and salads.

Domaine de Tariquet has a rich history, combining bear tamers, hairdressers, three nations, two world wars and a bad case of amnesia in their fascinating story, into which you can delve here.

Their Classic is composed of 45% Ugni Blanc, 35% Colombard, 10% Sauvignon and 10% Gros Manseng. It is imported by Robert Kacher Selections of New York. At 10.5% abv, the alcohol is very restrained, making for a very drinkable wine.

Very pale in color, the wine's fruity nose shows peach and pear along with a very savory aspect. There are plenty of minerals underneath, but an herbal overlay takes the spotlight. It tastes like I imagine wet rocks would, and features an earthy fruit flavor.

Domaine Chiroulet has weathered 150 years of such hindrances as phylloxera and World War Two, not necessarily in that order of importance. Seated on some of the highest slopes in the region, the land is named after a local word for "wind that whistles."

The white wines of Chiroulet come from the clay and limestone-rich soil with some chalky outcrops - all of which come through on the palate.

The Chiroulet Terres Blanches - the domaine' top white wine - hits 12.5% abv and is labeled as white Gascony wine - en Francais, Côtes de Gascogne IGP.  This wine is aged in tanks for eight months, with additional fullness added by the stirring of the spent yeast cells.  It is imported by Charles Neal Selections of Richmond, CA.  50% Gros Manseng, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Ugni Blanc.

This yellow-gold wine shows the classic terroir of southwest France - limestone, chalk and the essence of wet stones.  Its nose is full of this minerality, with the aroma of Meyer lemons and light oak spice filling out the profile.  On the palate comes a bracing acidity, fresh citrus fruit and that incredible minerality which begs for something from the sea - anything from the sea - but make it shellfish, please.

Domaine de Menard is a relative youngster in this group, established in 1920 by a Swiss vintner. Forty years later, his daughter expanded the operation and now a third generation is involved in growing grapes and making wine.

The 2013 Cuvée Marine is imported from the Gascogne by Paul M. Young Fine Wines. It reaches 11.5% abv and shows a beautiful, light green tint.

There is a grassy nose decorated with lemon and minerals aplenty. The very full mouthfeel shows nice acidity, a good combination. Lemon and lime zest on the palate is chock full of minerality. The wine finishes brisk and clean, with just a hint of oak. It makes me feel all summery inside. You may experience similar results.

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Monday, June 21, 2010


La Vieille Ferme Blanc

We tried a new place for lunch recently, House on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. It's been open about six months and has a really comfortable vibe. The mix'n'match decor is highlighted by dark wood ceiling beams that look great against the white interior. The decor features a big clock here, an old Dr. Pepper sign there and a TV that can be seen from any table in the house. Wine crates are on high shelves near those ceiling beams. Their wine cellar is completely visible through lucite walls, a trend in wine-savvy restaurants of which I heartily approve. I have posted a couple of interior shots on the Now And Zin Facebook page. Take a look if you like.

The food's good, too. I had the House Chopped Salad, which is pretty much a Cobb salad, tossed. Denise had the short rib tacos, and the pork really melted in my mouth. The soft corn tortillas tasted homemade, too.
The wine list sported some interesting choices. There seem to be quite a few Spanish reds, which I like. On a warm afternoon, though, I opted for a French white wine from the Cotes du Luberon, the La Vieille Ferme 2008. The blend is 30% Grenache Blanc, 30% Bourboulenc, 30% Ugni Blanc and 10% Roussanne. 90% of the cool fermentation takes place in vats, while 10% is in new French oak. It then goes into stainless steel until bottled.
It's a pale wine with a yellow-green tint. The nose is rather herbaceous with a hint of wonderful funkiness. Denise detected some vanilla, but it was not apparent to me. On the palate, the wine is smooth, fresh and bracing all at once. Pears and melons are laced with a nutty flavor. The finish lingers pleasantly and reveals a nice acidity. It's a rather full-bodied white, and is quite refreshing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Napa Rose - In The Lounge

A recent visit to Napa Rose at the Disneyland/California Adventure complex was quite enjoyable, despite the fact that we came without a reservation and had to sit in the lounge area. It turned out to be perfect, as we really weren't all that hungry anyway. In the lounge you can order any of the salads or appetizers from the menu. Perfect, since that's what we wanted. The wines, as expected, were outstanding. I tried a pair.

Domaine Tempier Blanc, Bandol, France 2007 This is a very nice wine! The white wines of Bandol take such a backseat to the reds, they are practically in the trunk. Only about 5% of the grapes in Bandol are white wine grapes. Pale golden in the glass, the nose has tons of minerals along with citrus and grassy aromas. It feels full in the mouth with a great acidity. Some pear and citrus come across on the palate, but it it dominated by the minerality. Enjoy a nice, long finish. It's an interesting blend of 58% Clairette, 19% Ugni Blanc, 19% Bourboulenc, 4% Marsanne. Excellent with seared scallops.

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2007 From an area where they really know how to make a great white wine, this namesake winery in Dry Creek Valley does a great job with Chenin Blanc. Aromas of honeysuckle and tropical fruit capture the nose. The pale wine is crisp and refreshing, with flavors of tart apple and melon. The acidity is great, perfect for food, and the finish is pleasing.

My wife and I enjoy the appetizers-in-the-lounge experience so much, that's where we've been found on our last few visits to Napa Rose. If you are really hungry, though, you should opt for the dining area where you can order entrees.