Tag Archives: French wine

Nothing Small About This Petit Chablis

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IMG_0024As a wine student, educator, buyer and lover I truly enjoy discovering new varietals and regions. Sometimes I come across them myself or am guided to them by vendors, distributors, customers or friends. Petit Chablis falls into mostly the customer category. I’ve had many a customer refer to Petit Chablis as a varietal when in fact it is a region or better yet an appellation of the area known as Chablis, in Burgundy France.

Within Chablis and its sub-regions; A dry with little to no oak Chardonnay is the required grape varietal for wine making.

Pairing suggestions from bourgogne-wines.com

Petit Chablis has a tang of ozone about it which calls for oysters, raw fish, and prawns (raw, grilled, or in sauce). It also makes a willing partner for small river fish (fried), grilled sardines, and numerous other fish species. But above all it is its frisky and energetic character which constitutes its charm. It is masterly with fried eggs and omelettes, as it tames their heaviness in the mouth. In the same way, it lends definition to tripe sausages (andouillettes) and snails (escargots). Goat cheese is perfectly at ease with its roguish appeal, as are pressed or hard cheeses such as Gouda or Gruyère. Its freshness and simplicity make it an ideal wine for summer salads or as a pre-dinner drink – try serving it with savory puff pastries (gougères).

Petit Chablis although highly regarded is not that well-known by much of my customer base. That said, we do carry one example of it in our French wine area and I am happy to report I find it worthy. Having wanted to try it for a while I finally got a chance to sit down and ponder about the 2015 Laroche Petit Chablis.

My notes:

Beautiful pale straw yellow color in the glass. On the nose; fruit at the front with a mineral background. On the palate; medium bodied, again with green fruits at the front, a nice rich roundness in the mid-palate followed by minerality with great acidity. Somewhat reserved overall not bold.

It is interesting to note the difference between a bold California Chardonnay and this french import. I see where this would work very well with the before-mentioned goat cheese, salads and seafood whether cooked or raw. To me when pairing, this is closer to a Sauvignon Blanc than to the California style Chardonnay of late.

I am looking forward to sharing this wine with customers and friends who at the time may not know what a Petit Chablis is but I guarantee they will not forget anytime soon.

¡SALUD!

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St Patrick’s Day Pairings

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As March 17th 2015 approaches I am excited once again about the pairing challenge for cabbage, corned beef and the usual Saint Patrick’s day fare with wine. As you can see below Cóte du Rhône and Rose’ paired beautifully at our First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting a few years back.  There is something to be said about good note taking because the years since are a blur. What did we drink?

This year, although beer will of course also be served, I already have wine on my mind. I’m also thinking of a dinner twist; serving corned beef stuffed cabbage. Hopefully this will become a reality and not just a pending future idea like my corned beef empanadas. But you never know, if the luck of the Irish be with me and leftovers are plentiful I foresee both in my near future. Ah, I can dream…

Whole Foods Market NMIAWith the main dish checked off my list I can now concentrate on the important stuff, wine! As it slowly comes together my wine list, go figure, will start with cider. I have a delicious French, organic hard apple cider  that I think will be a welcome addition to the mix, specially in Miami’s already 85+ degree weather.  Next up a Rose’ Vihno Verde by Orlana from our Whole Foods Portugal Point of Origin  program running now. This light and fruity wine with notes of strawberries and raspberries will be the perfect transition from the drier cider.  Finally instead of a Grenache driven Cóte du Rhóne I am going to go with a 100% old vine Garnacha from the Calatayud region within Aragón, Spain. Evodia comes to mind. The low tannins yet spicy and fruity mix will add excitement to the celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day meal and drinks are planned.  What’s missing?  I should probably start inviting guests! Part of me wishes it were being held today with all the talk of wonderful foods and beverages. But at least we have something to look forward to. I better get shopping!  ¡SALUD!

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained through local retailers and were either a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

Bastille Day, French Wine and Whole Foods Market

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Happy Bastille Day!

 

July 14th the annual La Fête Nationale celebration in France or Bastille Day as it is mostly known in English-speaking countries is upon us once again and we have another holiday to drink wine to. To quote myself from Bastille Day 2012:   let’s drink some French wine!

 

Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues

Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues

Today’s choice, the Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues 2012, comes to us via Whole Foods Market Summer Top 10 program.  On-line information from Wiki tells us:

Ventoux AOC (formerly Côtes du Ventoux AOC) is a wine-growing AOC in the southeastern region of the Rhône wine region of France, where the wines are produced in 51 communes of the Vaucluse département along the lower slopes of the Ventoux mountain and at the foot of the Vaucluse Mountains. Archeological discoveries of wine making equipment have dated that wine has been produced in the area at least since around 30 AD.

This Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault  blend is what I would describe and recommend as a perfect Summer red: light bodied and fruity. Also great for fans of Pinot Noirs and even Beaujolais.

Whole Foods describes it as; aromatic with black fruit, spices and sweet cherry. Minerality and sweet anise show in this easy-to-sip Red blend. Soft tannins gently round out the finish.

BASTILLE DAYThis well-balanced blend of fruit, spice and pepper is a great way to not only celebrate Bastille Day and the warm days ahead but dare I say also a match for upcoming turkey holiday meals.

The year is flying by and hopefully the Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues, priced at $9.99 will not be “gobbled” up by November. Sorry I couldn’t resist 🙂

¡SALUD!

 

Organic Wine – Heller Estate Organic Vineyards: Chenin Blanc

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Heller Estate @WCW2014

The Heller Estate Organic Vineyards are located in the Cachagua (Hidden Springs) region of Carmel Valley, Monterey California.

Officially certified 100% organic by the state of California I appreciate the fact that they offer a copy of the actual certificate on their web-site.  I had never seen one before.

For certification the winemakers and property have to follow methods such as; no use of pesticides. Interestingly no herbicides are employed, and the desired results are accomplished by using the organic matter left following the crushing and pressing of grapes, which is then spread in the middle of the vineyard rows in order to build the matter content of the vineyard soil. Weeds are controlled by the use of cover crops providing a habitat for insects and spiders which are beneficial.  These grapes are also dry-farmed, little to no irrigation is used.

I originally became a fan of Chenin Blanc when I discovered one of France’s earliest official A.O.C. [Appellation d’origine controlee] Vouvray: a white wine region of France’s Loire Valley Touraine district where Chenin Blanc is known as Pineau de la Loire. I later also came to enjoy the Chenin Blanc of South Africa where I was surprised to learn it is the most widely planted varietal and also known as Steen.

This all brings us to California where according to on-line sources:

-During the 1980’s California had more acreage of Chenin Blanc planted than France.

-For most of its history in California the grape was considered a “workhorse variety” that could be used anonymously in bulk and jug blends, ideally partnered with Colombard and Chardonnay.

Luckily for us this changed in the early 2000’s when plantings declined and quality increased.  Heller’s original plantings were done in 1968 with production starting in 1976. The organic certification was granted in 1996 after three vintages of clean farming. The vineyard encompasses 120 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir at an altitude of 1,200-1,500 feet.

As one would come to expect the wines from France are old-world in style, leaning towards soft and delicate.  South Africa and California come across as new-world, filled with boldness and intensity.

My tasting notes included:

On the nose; floral [honeysuckle] with melon [green melon and cantaloupe], pineapple, stone fruit with aromas getting stronger in minutes most likely caused by the warming room temperature.  Medium bodied. On the palate; honeysuckle, melon, tropical fruits such as lychee and soursop with some of the 13.7 % alcohol detectable along with mouth-watering acidity.

Winemaker notes:

Aroma; Honeydew melon, guava and mineral notes with lime and nectarine highlights.  Also look for nice touches of floral components (honeysuckle/narcissus). Palate; Immediate, luscious mouth feel that envelopes followed by perfectly balanced acid components. Flavors of green apple, quince and citrus abound. Lingering mid-palate that extends nicely into a flavor packed finish with just the right touch of bright acidity.

I was very pleased with this wine which is priced in the $18-$25.00 range.   So much so that I would happily serve it again and recommend it to our customers.  We paired ours with ginger grilled swordfish, roasted potatoes and spinach. I especially like the fact that it comes from organic grapes. A fact that automatically garners some wine buyers yet seems to turn others off.  A sort of generalized stigma is applied by some to “organic” wines.  A fact I do not understand and a fact that should not be applied in this case.

¡SALUD!  To fighting the good fight.

St. Patrick’s Day Wine

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Grenache Rosé wine.

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching I find myself feeling more PINK than GREEN. My manhood intact, sparkling and non-sparkling Rosés are calling to me big time.  March 17th falls this year on a Sunday, and I love my #SundaySupper,  so we have begun to plan our annual get together for friends and family. What could we do to stir things up: Corned Beef Empanadas?

As I review our options I recalled last years post; Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…. and our very First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! A lot of things have changed since then, my new career for one, but interestingly the Rosé wine came close to taking last years 2012 prize.  One year later Pink is on my mind once again…..

Below is last years Corned Beef wine pairing including the winner which won by just one vote.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day &  Sláinte!

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained locally, either as a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

Thierry and Guy Fat bastard Chardonnay 2010

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Chardonnay, Fat bastard 2010Thierry and Guy Fat bastard Chardonnay – 2010

This was almost my choice for last weeks Bastille Day 2012 considering its French origin.  A fact that many still do not realize, and I was even surprised to find out last year. Must be the funny name that throws some consumers off, although the french can be humorous, but no matter the reason as the wine maker Thierry himself states; this Chardonnay is a consumer favorite. 

Thierry and Guy get all the credit for developing what Fat bastard has become. They used no malolactic fermentation and the wine is aged on lees to give it “more structure and fruit forward style”. Only 35% is oaked therefore giving it I believe,  a more delicate yet still bold true Chardonnay taste. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. I prefer this style of winemaking when it comes to Chardonnay.

I remember friends of mine years ago referring to this wine mostly because of the character with the same name in the Austin Powers movies.  I quite honestly didn’t take the wine seriously [because of the name] but I also didn’t taste it. Fast forward to a couple of years ago when in a rush for a white wine I picked this one off the grocer shelf for a dinner party. It was a hit!  Since then I’ve had it a few times and recently it’s almost become a staple at my house. The fact that it is summer may have something to do with it but us red wine drinkers do have to go white every once in a while….

To craft the Fat bastard Chardonnay, grapes are sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon, from the banks of the Rhone in the east to Carcassonne in the west, and from the foothills of the Massif Central in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the south. These different origins give the wine the balanced fruit flavor and acidity that have made it a consumer favorite.

I can see why this winemaker refers to their Chardonnay as a consumer favorite, I find it to be delicious and somewhat bold and delicate at once, the way I feel Chardonnay should be.  Therefore I am categorizing it as a perfect “go-to” wine. Usually priced in the $8.99-$9.99 range,  it is always reliable and a pleasure to drink!  I feel it is the perfect wine to drink during the week at home, to take to friends house and even as a gift. I’d also like to add that I think it tastes like a wine at a higher price point.

My tasting notes: Golden straw in color. Honeysuckle, melon and peach [tropical/tree fruit] on the nose with minerality as it warms. Also the flowery aroma expands as it breathes and or warms. On the palate much the same, with the peach flavor expanding over the others. I would classify this wine as having medium acidity levels and little to no wood influence on the nose and palate. It paired excellently with wild rice and pan grilled chicken.

Interestingly enough my mouth was watering as I typed the above description. I guess I know what I should be drinking tonight 🙂  ¡SALUD!

 Vintage Notes:

A cool spring led to difficult flowering, but the summer was mainly hot and dry so the wines have nice acidity and good body. Harvest was started much later than the previous year, and grapes were harvested at night to benefit from the cooler temperatures.

Maturation/Winemaking

The winemakers work very closely with the growers to determine the start of the harvest. The goal is to seek aromatic ripeness and rich varietal character.  Upon arrival at the winery, grapes immediately go through the crusher-stemmer. The juice is pressed pneumatically and refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours; it is then drawn off to start the fermentation with selected yeasts, at controlled temperatures.

Thierry’s Notes

It was a good thing I dressed in layers while monitoring the grapes for the 2010 vintage. A hot July and then a very cool August produced fruit that had perfect, high acidity while maintaining intense fruit flavors. The goal for me was to incorporate the fruit’s great flavor all the way from vine to bottle.

Bastille Day Wine – July 14th Celebrating La Fête Nationale with Chateau’s; Montet and Bonnet

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July 14th the annual La Fête Nationale celebration in France or Bastille Day as it is mostly known in English-speaking countries is upon us once again.  I now know that the Tour de France should have been a sign since it is always scheduled to correspond with this celebratory occasion.  Better yet,  I/we have another holiday to drink wine to. This may not be a “wine” holiday for most but the French are famous for their brew so…..I say let’s drink some French wine and since we are amidst the Summer season with heat records being broken every which way,  I will be drinking and writing about two French white wines.  Both these wines caught my attention last year while attending a Bordeaux class and a Sauvignon class. I’ve enjoyed them regularly since and if I may add, both would easily be my own Chateau wine if I wasn’t always out there looking for my next possible Chateau wine.

Should you be interested in more facts/myths about Bastille Day check out this fellow WordPress site I came across and found quite entertaining: http://irishherault.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/bastille-facts-myths/

Chateau Montet was discovered first [in a Bordeaux class] and I have since enjoyed their 2009 and 2010 vintages. Even more so I love the price! So much so that I bought a case the first time we crossed paths. The retail price is $8.99 but I was able to get it closer to $7.00 thanks to a sale and an additional 10% discount for the case at Total Wine and More.  I dare say this is the perfect under $10.00 wine for White Bordeaux [Sauvignon Blanc] wine lovers out there.  The wine comes from the area known as Entre-Deux-Mers, famous for its dry white wines and I can see why. We paired it with various cheeses but I can see it pairing wonderfully with seafood and lighter fare.  Noted on the nose and palate were citrus [grapefruit], pear, grass and a very appealing minerality. A pale greenish-yellow in color with light to medium body.  Again, this could easily be my “go to” dry white wine.  Should you be interested in reading another review of the Chateau Montet check out the following White Sauvignon Review link; http://whitesauvignon.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/hello-world/

Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc I was lucky enough to discover in a Sauvignon class. It also comes from the appellation of Entre-deux-Mers and is produced by; André LurtonChateau Bonnet is located in his home village of Grezillac in the north of the Entre-deux-Mers appellation and has been under his control since 1956.

The Chateau Bonnet White Bordeaux is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle fermented in 100% stainless steel. It is pale straw in color with a very inviting bouquet. Its taste intensity is ample with a crisp style. This wine starts with classic fruit and flower aromas with an underlying minerality.  On the palate notes of apple, grapefruit, grass and minerals were detected. I also noted fig and or guava. The sweetness was dry with acidity low on this light bodied wine with a lengthy finish.  The Chateau Bonnet retails for $14.99 and is a great choice to serve as an aperitif with cheeses or with lighter meals. Its taste is distinctive and somewhat comforting. I know that may sound crazy to some but as I have written before some wines just make me feel cozy. I would add this one to the list!

So, as I end this French themed post celebrating the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution I/we at least have one more excuse to drink and appreciate good wine.  Happy Bastille day,  ¡SALUD! or more appropriately  Á votre santé!