Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Not-Really-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Wine Post

On the one hand, people have come to expect a list of wines dedicated to Thanksgiving. On the other hand, I think posts dedicated to Thanksgiving wine recommendations have been over-done. And there are problems with wine lists (e.g,. top 10 wines for X, etc.,): people's preferences vary and there's no single wine that goes with Thanksgiving, but rather a range of many wines that would be good fits with typical Thanksgiving fare, e.g., turkey, starchy goodness, etc.

As always I start with premise that wine can be a source of enjoyment and that some of that enjoyment can come from trying wines that they have never tried, e.g., wines made with grapes that they have never tried, produced by a country or region that they have never tried, etc.   Then apply this idea to wines that are available in Tallahassee at the moment that are either legit alternatives to the wines commonly associated with Thanksgiving or just darn good wines in their own right that are off the beaten path!  This is what I've always, the wines featured are all sub-$20.
- 2010 Casillero del Diablo Reserve Pinot Noir (Chile). Strawberries, bing cherries, light-bodied, balanced, simple Pinot Noir.  You'll be hard-pressed to find a Pinot Noir of equal quality for $10.  Pinot Noir is traditionally associated with Thanksgiving...I'm buying more of this stuff.  (Publix, Killearn)
- 2009 Annabella Pinot Noir (Carneros, CA). This is probably the best $15 Napa Pinot Noir in town (New Leaf Market)
- 2009 M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut (Languedoc Roussillon, France). This wine is well-known and much like the Borsao it's a wine that won't disappoint for the price. Medium-full bodied Grenache blend with good secondary elements of earth, leaves, etc. ($12 Wine Warehouse)
- 2009 Borsao Garnacha (Spain). This is a steal at $6.99 (I've seen it listed around $10) although it's a fairly big wine and will need some bold flavors to compliment it. This is a good wine Thanksgiving or no Thanksgiving. (World Market)
-2009 Villa Wolf Riesling (Pfalz, Germany).  Simple, clean, balanced Riesling from a reliable producer year to year.  This is an ideal first-Riesling... can't go wrong with this wine.  ($9 Earth Fare)
- 2010 Dr. Loosen Riesling (Mosel, Germany).  I tried this wine a few weeks ago and was most impressed by its balance, weight and mouth-feel.  Sour with some sweetness to it, so if you have an aversion to sweetness, then avoid... unless you have an open mind and are willing to try something new! ($14 Earth Fare)
- 2010 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch, South Africa). Fantastic, different light white wine with fresh floral, chalk and citrus notes.  This is must-try if you're looking for a great non-traditional white.  ($14 Market Liquor, Lake Ella Plaza)
- 2009 Giachino Vin De Savoie (Jura, France) I already bragged a lot about this nice French white here. ($13 Wine Warehouse)
 - Riondo Prosecco (Italy). I tried this over the weekend at some friends' wedding and enjoyed it, as did the others at my table--so it's not just me! Note to reader: it had a little more sweetness that expected but not enough to diminish its quality. ($10 Costco, $11 Publix Killearn)
- N.V. Jaume Serra Cava Cristalino Brut (Spain).  Much like many of the wines featured here, this Cava is simple but well-made and won't disappoint for the price. ($8 World Market, $10 Publix)  

Dessert Wines & Aperitifs
- Moscato might be the most popular wine at the moment.  They're bubbly, sweet, relatively inexpensive (sub-$20) and fun.  Wine Warehouse carries this pink Moscato for under $10 that is simple and surprisingly good.
- Madeira or Sherries.  Here's a good post I came across recently on dry and cream sherries, their characteristics and foods you might want to try them with.  Sherries and Madeira are under-valued (read: relatively cheap) and so are worth exploring.

Last, it's impossible not to notice that some retail stores are also selling wine-based beverages like ChocoVine, Mulled Wine, wines made from fruits other than grapes--I discovered that Cranberry wine is being pushed this holiday.  These can be enjoyed after over-eating.

I hope one (or more) of these wines helps contribute to a happy Thanksgiving!

p.s. please contact me if you have any questions about any of these wines or any wines not included on this list that you'd like to find in town, e.g., Zinfandel, Cru Beaujolais, Rose, Syrah, etc.  Also if you're not afraid of dropping more than $20/bottle, there are some very good wines available in town--contact me and I'll try to point you in the right direction.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Vin De Savoie

Yesterday I came across a wine good and interesting enough that I thought it deserved a post unto itself. Trying to survive the 100 degree temperatures of the south in the summer I went looking for a white and found the 2009 Frédéric Giachino Vin de Savoie Abymes Monfarina

It is produced in the French region of Savoie, east of Burgundy and south of Jura. (Map below.) The grape is Jacquere. According to winegeeks "wines from the Jacquère are often very light, higher in acidity, and crisp with scents of fresh grass and flavors of citrus fruits." And the Giachino Vin de Savoie is no exception. I called Jacquère obscure--obscure is relative, obviously--because my audience is most readers in the southern US many of whom aren't wine geeks, and my use of (a dry or off-dry) Riesling as an analogue to describe the acidity of this Vin de Savoie caused some disagreement. But the high, vibrant acidity (that almost pulsates in your mouth!) is what grabbed me and reminded me of the acidity in some very good Rieslings and Sancerres and even the occasional excellent Provencal rosé. In any event, I found this off-the-beaten-path French white to be one of my favorites of this summer. You can find this very good Vin de Savoie at Wine Warehouse in the $12 range. I'll be buying more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Loire Tasting

Loire Wine Region Tasting
Here is the Wikipedia page on Loire wines. Loire is one of my favorite regions especially for its sparkling wines which are a great alternative to the sparkling wines of Champagne. Loire fact: the Loire region produces the second most sparkling wine in France behind only Champagne. All of the following wines were sampled at a tasting at The Wine Warehouse (WW) on February 2, 2011. If you live in Tallahassee and are interested in any of the wines, you can find them there (WW prices shown). Last, although I have #4 as my favorite of the tasting, #5 is just as well made; I just thought #4 was more interesting, had more complexity to offer, etc. On to the wines....
The Whites
All of the whites showed elements of citrus, chalk and some amount of passion fruit.
1. '09 Les Hexagonales (Sauv Blanc), $12: Tart citrus passion fruit nose but not much sweetness. Medium acidity (read: not New Zealand SB acidity levels), some chalk, balanced. Short-med finish. 85-6
2. '09 Jardin de la Fruitiere (Melon-Chard blend), $9: Tart, passion fruit and small amount of anise. Sour fruit (I'm at a loss for an example here--any ideas?), chalk, balanced. 84-5

3. '09 Chardonnay de la Fruitiere, $10: Similar to 1 but more muted nose. More body than 1 & 2. Some/mild toast. Mild bitter (steel) finish. 84

4. '09 La Craie, Vouvray, $15: Similar nose to 1-3 with some honey; pleasant. Mild sweetness/honey, bigger body/more viscosity than 1-3. Lower acidity. Medium finish. 88. IMO, wine of the night...yes, I bought a bottle.

5. NV Louis De Grenelle, Samur Brute Rose (100% Cab Franc), $17: Strawberry nose muted. Fine bubbles, mild creaminess, focused body, balanced. 88 IMO, runner-up wine of the night.

The Reds

6. '08 Les Hexagonales (Pinot Noir), $15: Red fruit (cranberry), spice and mild oak. Near perfect Pinot nose. Somewhat flat (not enough acidity). Let down after such a nice nose. 83

7. La Claux Delorme, Valencay Rouge (Gamay, Malbec, Cab Franc, Pinot Noir blend), $15: Red fruit and... kitty litter (!) nose. Some pepper, mild green veg (raw collards) some oak. 85

8. '08 J. Merieau, Cot Cenit Visage (100% Malbec), $16: Super dry, tight prune brown leaves... bizarre nose! Dry but Not bone dry. This needs cellar/decanting time... or a blackened steak to reveal everything it has. 84

9. '09 La Paradou, Provance (Grenache), $12: Button mushroom, moist forest floor nose. Fruitest of all the reds. Acceptable everyday red. 85