Wine Wednesdays: Sauvignon Blanc from Chablis

Wine Wednesday's: Sauvignon Blanc from Chablis

When I traveled through Chablis 10 years ago, I tasted delectable Chardonnay after delectable Chardonnay. But nowhere was I treated to any other white grape variety.

When I chanced across this wine at the local government liquor store, I had to try it. What would Sauvignon Blanc taste like, from my favourite white wine region in the world?

It’s a pale yellow, with colour right to the rim. A sniff… Lime leaves, vanilla blossoms and a pale fragrance of white lilies in a steel vase.

The taste… Ah, there it is. The lime of Sauvignon Blanc, but the bracing steel of Chabis. That limestone mineral character is so characteristic of Chablis, I would recognize it anywhere. And the limestone gives the wine, somehow, a generous mouth feel, so that it fills the mouth more than any white wine I know, without being coy or too bodacious. So so so good.

I enjoyed this delicious wine with some risotto prima vera… A simple Italian rice with suresh peas and carrots from my garden.

Ok, you can tell from my tone that I fell in love with Chablis ten years ago, and never fell back out… But now I have to add to my list of adoration Sauvignon Blanc à la Chablissaine.

Wine Wednesday's: Sauvignon Blanc from Chablis

Wine Wednesday: Sargamuskotaly Tokaji Late Harvest

One of my personal wine fetishes is a passion for sweet dessert wine. The sweeter does not mean the better… Dessert winds are all about the perfect balance between aroma, acid, sugar, and mouth feel.

Wine Wednesday: Sargamuskotaly Tokaji Late Harvest

Probably the best value wine that I know of in this category is Tokaji from Hungary. Hungary and wine, once upon a time, was very popular in Europe. But the methods have fallen out of favor, and The region’s exquisite quality is ours for a bargain these days.

The most famous kind of wine from this area is Aszu. The grapes are affected with Noble rot, picked individually, and then fermented in their own best of wine.

This is not a bottle of Aszu, however. This is a late harvest wine.

You can taste in wine that some of the Yellow Muscat grapes have been affected by botrytis, Noble rot. But the sweetness comes mainly from harvesting the grapes as the colder temperatures set in on the late harvest. It’s a fresh, modern style with the backbone of botrytis, found only a few places in the world. Awesome. And the best part of all, is that this little bottle is on $12 in my province!

If I haven’t already convinced you with the price in the pedigree, let me lure you in with a description. The wind is a medium yellow color, clear around the room as it is only two years old. The aroma is full of honeysuckle, orange blossoms, white lilies, beeswax, and buttermilk. When you take a sip, take a big sip….And feel that luscious full wine swirl around in your mouth. Note the high acidity, the balances the sweetness. It has a delicious pineapple taste, with tropical lilies, strawberry blossoms and a mouthful of honey. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Of course you can drink this with dessert, but I love a glass appoint self. Some of my other favorite pairings are with popcorn, pad Thai, salty nuts and pate on crackers.

Enjoy!

Wine Wednesday: Tarima Organic Monastrell

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Can you imagine a wine growing region that is so hot and dry, the vines can’t be grown in rows? Instead, the 30 year old vines are grown in a funnel shape, to capture the maximum moisture, and sent it directly to the root of the plant.

Yesterday I picked up a 2012 bottle of Tarima Organic wine, from  Bodegas Volver. The grapes for this juicy, hot-blooded wine are grown in a harshly warm climate off the coast of Spain, on the west side of the Mediterranean. The region is DO Alicante, which is close to one of my favourite Spanish wine areas, DO Jumilla.

I poured the inky purple wine into short Riedel glasses for supper. “I can’t tell what colour it is!” one of my daughters said, and she went to the office to get a piece of white paper to hold underneath it. (Yes, this is Sugar, the Little Chef.)

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The wine was opaquely purple. Everything about it showed the climate it was grown in.

It had intense aromas of red bricks, cherry, steel, cinnamon, coal brickets. It’s incredibly intense – I can’t imagine enjoying it without food, but then again, I can’t imagine not enjoying it with food! We served it with mashed sunchokes and potatoes, bison steak and shitake mushrooms. It needed all those big flavours to cope with the intensity of the wine.

More cherries to taste, and this dusty, tumbleweed, herbaceous flavour. Hot with alcohol, but balanced with high acidity and dusty, soft tannins in full force.

Absolutely intense, and delicious, and for under $20 – great deal! Maybe a new grilling favourite?

Wine Wednesdays: Lusitano Estate Pinot Noir

It’s been so long since I’ve written a Wine Wednesday post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drinking wine!

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Tonight we were eating smoked pork hock cassoulet and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, perfect French paysan comfort food for the perfect Pinot Noir. I have now found a new favorite Pinot Noir from the Okanogan Valley… And surprise surprise, it comes from just across the street from my favourite, sorry, previous Okanagan favourite Pinot Noir! ( I still love you, Noble Ridge!)

Lusitano Estate Winery: I visited these folks in the fall, on one of my trips back from the USA. It was a spontaneous drop in. The sweet Portuguese lady, Fernanda, who poured for me owns the winery with her husband. They have been producing quality juice for other wineries for many many years, and only recently, they decided to open their own little estate winery. They are still selling the majority of their grapes to others, she told me… I wonder who is buying it?

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On the nose, his beautiful Pinot Noir smells like a robust dessert. With chocolate, sultana raisins, ripe raspberries, baking spices, good undertones of vanilla, and hints of herbs and that essential element of cedar, it’s feast for the nostrils. The wine in the glass is a slightly browned ruby, even though it is only a 2013. Did this wind sneak into exposure somehow?

On the tongue, it was incredibly smooth tannins. I mean, incredibly. They are there and support the structure of the wine, but they are as soft as suede. Jason thinks it lacks acidity, but it’s simply so well integrated but you don’t notice it. I would say, medium plus acid. If I was to choose a style, I would suggest this is more of a Burgundian style, but it also has a lot of berry in the nose. On the palette, you get more of that chocolate, as well as bing cherries and that toasted vanilla from oak.

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Ok… So here’s the kicker. This gorgeous Pinot Noir is only $19. I kid you not. When I told Jason this, the miser exclaimed, “buy a case!” Well, we might have to stock up, before all the rest of you get there.

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Thanks for a lovely visit, Fernanda…. I wish you and your husband all the best. And I will be visiting you annually for years to come!

PS: the rosé was also delicious. Hello… Same grapes, lighter pressing. A gorgeous off dry French rosé style.

Wine Wednesdays: 2011 Budget Bordeaux Worth Buying

Every year in September, Jason and I pick up our copy of the Bordeaux release booklet. We tag the pages and circle ones that we are interested in… The BC liquor store system allows us to get at excess to some decent variety of some of the best wines in the world. You may have even better selections where you live!

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Before I go any further, let me explain why Bordeaux is so special. Critics would say that there are a lot of mediocre winds and high prices. But what they may not tell you is that the most earth shattering, are inspiring were winds in the world come from this amazing place.

On our honeymoon, Jason and I had a chance to visit many first, second and third growth wineries. We will never be able to afford these wines… But let me tell you, there is a reason that Château d’Yquem is the top winery in the world. Many of the first growth and second growth produce winds of infinite character and incredible finish. I credit those tastings as the foundation of developing my own wine palette. I think it forever changed my perception of what truly is “great wine. ”

Back to the October release. Some years, we afford ourselves a few investment bottles. Some years, we can’t afford anything. Unfortunately, last year was one of those years, and it was one of the best Bordeaux vintages on record. Domage!

This year, we are particularly not in the position to buy wine. But that doesn’t stop us coming through the release catalog and picking our favorites.

As a public service to all of those in British Columbia, let me highlight my favourite picks from your local liquor stores. Of course, you may be less price driven and want to invest in some more expensive bottles to stowaway. But I love finding value in Bordeaux.

The quotes are from the BC Liquor store website.

First is the budget version of d’Yquem. Chateau Doisy-Vedrines.

95 pts, Wine Spectator $60
Pure, with piercing persimmon, pineapple, white peach and quince flavors. Gorgeous floral notes of honeysuckle and orange blossom form the backdrop, while a heather accent caresses the finish. Overwhelmingly pure in the end, with a finish that sails on and on. Best from 2016 through 2035.

This beautiful little lot of land is one of the ones that we drove through when we were in Sauternes. There is a reason there is a bottle limit… Anyway you slice it, this is spectacular value for wine. If you don’t no when we would drink sweet dessert wine, don’t worry about the occasion. This will last forever, and you can easily have it with a piece of blue cheese, some pate, or just savoring on it’s own in an evening.

Next is Clos Floridene, from Graves.

90 pts, Wine Spectator $35
Very solid, with an energetic tarry edge around a core of steeped plum, blood orange and raspberry fruit. Bright floral and iron hints fill the finish, showing sleek acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2015 through 2019.

Graves is a lesser known region of Bordeaux, but it includes some of the most value-laden budget wines from the region. Just like Sauternes, it is west of the Graonne River, and was named for the gravelly soils the vines grow in. I personally love the overgrown, medieval look of the farms and old castles in this area. Wines from this area typically are Cabernet based, and age well.

Across two rivers and north of the Dordogne River, you will find Chateau Fonteil, from Fronsac

89 pts, Wine Advocate $39
From the husband and wife oenologist team of Michel and Dany Rolland, this blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits dark black raspberry and graphite notes intermixed with hints of licorice and blueberries, medium to full-bodied flavors, excellent depth and texture, sweet tannin and adequate acidity. As always, Fontenil is one of the stars of Fronsac in 2011 with the winemaking skills of its owners well-presented. This beautifully crafted, high-class effort needs another year or so to resolve its tannins, and it can be drunk over the next 10+ years.

I haven’t been to Fronsac, because it was just emerging as a wine region ten years ago, when we were there on our honeymoon. Quite a few of the big wine houses are investing in this region, which is producing better and better wine. I love right bank wines, which are more feminine (it’s all the merlot and cab franc) and this bottle promises a lovely glass.

I hope these few suggestions temp you to check out Bordeaux, maybe for the first time!

Santé!