Wine of the Week; 2013 Copain P2

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2013 Copain P2

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.

Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.  In addition to this interesting blend they also produce an interesting and delicious estate Trousseau Gris.

The Wine

This is an interesting blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Pinot Gris.  The fruit was sourced from the Hein, and Klindt vineyard located in the Anderson Valley. The grapes are co-fermented and aged for five months in neutral French Oak barrels.

You get more Pinot Gris on the nose and more Pinot Noir on the palate.

12.7% alcohol; Retail – $25

IMG_0163
My tasting notes follow:
Light ruby color with strawberry, a bit of cherry and hints of floral and spiced orange rind aromas. On the palate, it’s light bodied, fresh and balanced with strawberry, spice flavors complemented by a tangy minerality and touch of tannins round out this well structured wine.  Satisfying finish. It’s very good on its own, but really shines with food!  Serve slightly chilled (~55 degrees).

Rating: A-;  An interesting blend that works so well! Positioned as a chillable summer red (which it is), but this also make a great Fall wine too!

Pair with: Thanksgiving dinner!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Champagne Chronicles – Day 5; The Aube

This is the last of my five-part series about my visit to Champagne last month. Check out the previous four posts about my phenomenal week!

  • Day 1 - Guided tour of Reims Cathedral and Champagne dinner
  • Day 2 - C.I.V.C., Roger Coulon, and Veuve Clicquot
  • Day 3 - Louis Roederer, Rene Geoffroy, and Jacquesson
  • Day 4 - Bereche & Fils, Billecart-Salmon, and Bruno Paillard

_______________________________________________________

Last month, I had the privilege of traveling to the Champagne region in France as a guest of the U.S. Champagne Bureau for the 2014 Champagne Harvest Media Trip. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about what makes the Champagne region special via visits to 10 producers including large houses, growers and cooperatives. Our visit included exquisite meals too – all paired with Champagne!

My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne” John Maynard Keynes

Our itinerary for Day 5 was as follows:

Champagne Chronicles - Day 5; The Aube

This photo of the Ource River was taken in the picturesque village of Essoyes – where Renoir spent his summers.

The Aube

Our last full day in Champagne featured a trip to the Côte des Bar  in the Aube department of the Champagne region. The Côte des Bar is one of five regions of Champagne (with the three most well know being, Montagne de ReimsCôte des Blancs, and Vallée de la Marne).

Champagne Chronicles - Day 5; The Aube

Image courtesy of the New York Times

It’s about a two-hour drive south of main Champagne towns of Reims, Epernay, and Aÿ.

I like the way the New York Times put it..Côte des Bar is closer to Chablis than to Épernay, and its limestone and clay soils are more like those of Chablis than the chalky soils to the north. Yet, despite the geological resemblance to Chablis, which makes the most distinctive chardonnay wines in the world, the vast majority of the grapes in the Côte des Bar are pinot noir.  

The Côte des Bar has an often uncomfortable attachment to Champagne that has existed since the Middle Ages. Though its main city, Troyes, was once Champagne’s provincial capital, counterparts in the Marne Valley have generally regarded the area with disdain – enough so, that they rioted in 1911 as part of an effort to block Aube grapes from Champagne. Ultimately the Aube was ushered in, but even today, its 17,000 acres of vineyards receive none of Champagne’s top classifications. Even so, many of the big houses in the north like Moët & Chandon, and Veuve Clicquot source grapes from the region. In fact 50% of the Pinot Noir in Champagne is grown in Côte des Bar

Yet today, the spotlight is unexpectedly shining on the Aube, and its primary growing area, the Côte des Bar. Now, the region is coming to be known for its independent vignerons, whose distinctive, highly sought wines have caught the attention of Champagne lovers the world over. – The New York Times

If you’ve got the time, a visit to the Aube is well worth the drive! The country side is breathtakingly beautiful, and the many of the villages have an almost medieval feel with cobblestone streets.  And put a visit to Troyes on you list –  I know I will!

Champagne Drappier

Drappier is located in the tiny village of Urville (pop. 151).  Upon our arrival at Drappier, we were greeted by Michel Drappier, who is in charge of this family owned and run business these days.  He led us on a tour of the Drappier cellars and the tasting.

Since we’d arrived a bit late we were running behind schedule.  We actually wanted to skip the cellar tour (by the 5th day we’d seen plenty of Champagne cellars). But Michel convinced us it would be worth our time.

It most certainly was!

The history of the house dates back to 1808. But the history of the cellars and vineyards dates back to the 12th century when Saint Bernard had an annex built to Clairvaux Abbey in Urville in 1152! . Part of those cellars still exist and are in use today.

During the tour we learned that Drappier has the distinction of inventing the world’s largest sized Champagne bottle, the Melchizedek, which holds the equivalent of 40 regular size bottles. They also bottle in 11 different sizes from quarter bottle to the aforementioned Melchizedek. Michel indicated that Drappier is the only Champagne house to carry out secondary fermentation in all bottle sizes.

Drappier is the closest thing to a grand marque in the Aube.  They are most certainly doing some very interesting and unique things in the cellar:

  • The amount of sulphur used in the wines is one of the lowest of any Champagne. And they also produce a cuvee - Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage Sans Ajout de Soufre with no sulfur.
  • They have been producing a Brut Nature, which are become more and more popular these days for over 20 years
  • Their liqueurs d’expédition used in their dosage are aged in oak casks, then in demijohns for more than 10 years. In fact, some of their liqueurs d’expédition are 30-40 years old!

After the tour, we were joined for the tasting by Michel’s charming father André, who at 80 is still active in the business.

We tasted the following wines:

  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Carte d’Or
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage Sans Ajout de Soufre
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage
  • Drappier Champagne Quattuor – Blanc de Quatre Blancs (An interesting, and damned delicious cuvee featuring Chardonnay, and three forgotten Champagne grape varieties: Arbane (25%), Petit Meslier (25%) and Blanc Vrai (25%)
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
  • 2008 Drappier Champagne Millésimé Exception
  • 2006 Drappier Champagne Grande Sendrée

Wow, the wines were a revelation!  Drappier certainly had the most interesting lineup of wines for tasting during our trip, but more importantly, I found the wines were characterized by a distinctive combination of purity of fruit and balance.

It’s a challenge to pick a favorite, but I was very impressed with the Brut Nature Zero Dosage, and their prestige cuvee, the 2006 Grande Sendrée.  Both are wines I highly recommend! The Brut Nature is 100% Pinot Noir and is light-bodied, dry, polished and crisp with apple, peach, lemon, and citrus character.  The 2006 Grande Sendrée is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, and 40% Chardonnay sourced from a parcel of land covered by cinders after the fire which ravaged Urville in 1838. It spend 6.5 years on lees. It’s shows perfumed aromas of hazelnut, apple, brioche,and chalk. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and impeccably balanced with baked apple, peach, and citrus flavors.  Dosed at 5g/L with a long finish.

See below for gallery of Champagne Drappier visit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Champagne Devaux

The House of Veuve A.Devaux, a co-op was founded in 1846. Created by brothers Jules and Auguste Devaux the brand was immediately successful and contributed to the worldwide reputation of Champagne wines. After them Madame Veuve Augusta Devaux a feisty “Champenoise”, took over the company and ran it with energy and talent. At the end of the 19th century three-fourths of the production was exported. For a century the House of Devaux was located in Epernay and remained the property of the founding family for 5 generations. The last of these and without an heir. Jean-Pol Auguste Devaux decided in 1987 to entrust the prestigious brand to the Union Auboise and its president Laurent Gillet. (Source)

We tasted the following wines:

  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Blanc de Noirs
  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Brut Grande Réserve
  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Cuvée Rosée

My favorite was the Blanc de Noirs.  Surprisingly, it was one of the few Blanc de Noir tasting during my week in Champagne.  Blanc de Noir is a Champagne made completely with black grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This one is was made from 100% Pinot Noir and included about 20% reserve wine. It has a delightful soft, elegant, fresh brioche red fruit, roasted apple, dried herb character with some earthy notes.

After our tasting we adjourned to the Devaux what I’ll call the “Guest House” for a fabulous lunch paired with some of the more exclusive Devaux Champagne including a couple from Magnums!

See below for gallery of Champagne Veuve Devaux visit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Espace Renoir

The attractive Renoir Space was opened in summer 2011. It’s not a museum, as there are no paintings, furniture or artifacts associated with Renoir, but it’s well set out as a series of spaces where you learn more about Renoir the man, and his life. It’s interactive, using films and photographs as well as recordings.

Champagne 9-2014

After we had a chance to see the exhibit in the Espace Renoir, we were treated to a on-site education tasting of Rosé des Riceys with Champagne DeFrance.

Champagne Defrance

I’d never heard of Rose des Riceys prior to the tasting (although unknowingly we had a Veuve Devaux Rosé des Riceys) That’s because very few producers make Rosé des Riceys wines, and in limited quantities, so they are very rarely seen outside France. They are just even rarer than those of Champagne’s other still wine appellation, Coteaux Champenois.

These still Rosé  wines comes from a tiny terroir named Les Riceys made up with three close-knit villages named Riceys-Haut, Riceys Haute-Rive et Riceys-Bas that is only a few kilometers from Burgundy.

The idea is to flirt with making a red wine, without actually making a red wine” - Pascal Morel

The wines are renowned for their ability to age, inimitable aromatics and lightly tannic charcter.

Among our group, opinions about the wines were sharply divided. I found the wines to be very enjoyable, but most it seemed did not.  My favorite was the 2006. It has an alluring strawberry, raspberry, and a bit of sous bois character with wonderful minerality and a slightly tannic grip I quite enjoyed.  I couldn’t but wonder if the wine wouldn’t have been even better with food though…

2014-09-155

Since we had a two-hour drive back to Reims, I had a lot of time to reflect on my week in Champagne.

I found myself experiencing the ambivalence that one may feel at the end of such a awe-inspiring singular experience. There were the joys of experiencing a deep dive into glorious wine that Champagne is, getting to know the immensely talented, charming, and passionate Champenoise, making new friends, and the splendid Champagne pairing meals.

But I also felt a bit of sorrow because it was ending. I wondered if I’ll ever be able to return, and share the experience with my wife.

I hope so! And I wish the same for my family, friends and the readers of this blog.

A visit to Champagne should be on your bucket list.…Santé!

Recap of the 2014 San Francisco #ChampagneTasting

I attended the Champagne region’s official annual United States tasting in San Francisco on Tuesday, October 21st.   The  tasting was held at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square.

The event celebrates Champagne: the sparkling wine produced in the French region of the same name. Only after strict appellation regulations are followed – from harvesting entirely by hand to how much juice may be extracted when grapes are pressed to minimum time in the wine spends aging in bottle on its lees before release– can a wine be labeled Champagne.

The event is part of an October full of festivities celebrating America’s love of Champagne, concluding with the fifth annual Champagne Day on Friday, October 24.

IMG_0776

The event was organized by the Comité Champagne (Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne – “C.I.V.C.”), which represents all the grape growers and houses of Champagne. The C.I.V.C. promotes and supports the growers and producers through vineyard management and winemaking research and development, international protection of the Champagne name, and of course promoting Champagne

This was the fifth time the tasting was held in the United States, and the second time San Francisco was chosen to host the event.

Recap of the 2014 SF #ChampagneTasting

Now this is the way to start one’s sunny San Francisco afternoon…flute in hand and an embarrassment of Champagne riches ahead!

The Tasting

The event was held  in the Alexandra Ballroom on the 32nd floor of the Westin with breathtaking views of San Francisco and the Bay.  There were 37 brands represented and over 100 wines available for tasting.

It was a very well-organized event that included a comprehensive and accurate booklet of the wines being poured that had plenty of room for notes.

Each brand had a table around the perimeter of the ballroom. And each brand presented three wines – a Multi-vintage Brut, a Vintage, and a wine of their choice.

Additionally there was what I’d call “Champagne Island” in the middle of the room with a bunch of tables strung together to create what appeared to be two very long tables – One each for the multi-vintage wine and the vintage wine.

Perfect for the “power” tasters, and/or folks who wanted to avoid the marketing spiel.

Since I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t have a tasting plan…but that didn’t last long.

First, I decided to taste all the multi-vintage Brut wines on Champagne Island first because those are the most affordable, and the most widely available (multi-vintage wine represent about 80% of all Champagne sold).  Next, I tasted all the Rosé Champagne. Those were available at the tables of the producers who decided to show a Rosé. And finally, it was back to Champagne Island to taste as many of the Vintage wine as time and my, by then, tired palate would permit.

Recap of the 2014 San Francisco #ChampagneTasting

Champagne Island – where Champagne wishes do come true!

I used a simple scoring system – a scale of 1-5.

Okay, let’s keep it real.  It is Champagne after all – it was more like 3.75 – 5 because there wasn’t a dud in the bunch.

I ended up tasting 70 wines.  My favorites, which I scored at least 4 points are listed below by category:

Recap of the San Francisco #ChampagneTasting

A couple of my favorite multi-vintage blends

Multi-Vintage

  • Delamotte Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
  • J. Lassalle Champagne Brut Reserve Cachet d’Or
  • Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier
  • Michel Gonet Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
  • Moutard Père et Fils Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée
  • Nicolas Maillart Champagne 1er Cru Brut Platine
  • Philipponnat Champagne Royale Réserve Brut
  • Pol Roger Champagne Brut Réserve
  • Taittinger Champagne Brut Réserve / La Française
Recap of the San Francisco #ChampagneTasting

A few of my favorite vintage Champagne including a couple of Prestige Cuvee!

Vintage

  • 2002 Charles Ellner Champagne Brut “Seduction” Millésimé
  • 2002 Delamotte Champagne Blanc de Blancs Millésimé
  • 2006 Drappier Champagne Grande Sendrée
  • 2007 Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Vintage
  • 2002 Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut Cuvée Palmes d’Or
  • 2004 Paul Goerg Champagne Cuvée Lady
  • 2002 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill
  • 2006 Taittinger Champagne Brut Millésimé
Recap of the San Francisco #ChampagneTasting

A few of my favorite Rose Champagne

Rose

  • Ayala Champagne Cuvée Rosé Nature
  • Bruno Paillard Champagne Rosé Brut Première Cuvée
  • Charles Heidsieck Champagne Brut Rosé Reserve
  • Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut Rose Prestige
  • Gosset Champagne Grand Rosé Brut
  • 2008 Louis Roederer Champagne Rosé Brut
  • Michel Gonet Champagne Brut Réserve
  • Philipponnat Champagne Réserve Rosée
  • Pierre Paillard Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru
  • Taittinger Champagne Brut Prestige Rosé
  • Vollereaux Champagne Rosé de Saignée

Conclusion

This is the best time to a Champagne lover and consumer. There are more choices available then ever, and the quality of Champagne is the highest it’s ever been across the board.

As I tasted through the wines, I couldn’t help but wonder how individual wines would pair with food.  Champagne is one of the most food friendly wines you can drink. Don’t limit your consumption of Champagne to a cocktail or aperitif.  Given a bit of thought you can pair it throughout a meal. While in Champagne last month (check out the links below ), I enjoyed several Champagne wine pairing meals. What a treat!

Happy #ChampagneDay!

Related posts you might enjoy:

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a San Francisco Bay Area based Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2010 Kenneth Volk Touriga Nacional Pomar Junction Vineyard

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Kenneth Volk Touriga Nacional Pomar Junction Vineyard.

The Winery

 From Kenneth Volk Vineyards (“KVV”)…“Proprietor Ken Volk has been making Santa Barbara and Central Coast wines for more than a quarter century. Perhaps best known as the founder of Wild Horse Winery, Ken has earned a reputation for crafting world-class wines, particularly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Santa Maria Valley.

Kenneth Volk has mentored many winemakers including Neil Collins of Tablas Creek, Terry Culton of Adelaida Cellars, Jon Priest of Etude, Larry Gomez of Lockwood Vineyards, Scott Welcher of Opolo Vineyards, and Karl Wicka of Turley Wine Cellars and The Missing Leg. He is an active supporter of the viticulture, enology and wine marketing programs being developed at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Volk has a keen interest in alternative or “heirloom” grape cultivars such as Malvasia and Cabernet Pferrer. He describes himself as an “innovating traditionalist” who likes to create multifaceted wines”.

KVV has tasting rooms in both Santa Maria and Paso Robles

My wife and I have been to KVV in Paso Robles a few times.  It’s always an interesting  and tasty visit.  We love that we get to try wine made from lesser know grape varieties like Aglianico, and Negrette.  Ken is a wonderful winemaker whose style we appreciate.

The Wine

Touriga Nacional is a red grape traditionally grown in Portugal’s Douro and Dao wine-growing regions. It traditionally plays a big part in the blends used for Port,  but is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dão

In many ways, Touriga Nacional is Portugal’s answer to France’s Cabernet Sauvignon. Both varieties display bold dark-fruit flavors, often with hints of spice, leather and violet – winesearcher.com

The grapes for this wine were source from the Pomar Junction Vineyard, which is located in the newly delineated El Pomar District of the Paso Robles viticultural appellation.

IMG_0767

My tasting notes follow:

Violet color with plum, blueberry, violet and lavender aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with prominent acidity and a soft texture with soft well-integrated tannins. It shows plum, ripe mixed black and red currant, vanilla and sweet spice flavors. Med long finish. 13.6% alcohol; Retail – $36;  Drink now

Rating: A-;  I love trying lesser know grape varieties, and this wine is a winner! Touriga Nacional FTW!

Pair with: Paella Valenciana, or a grilled rib-eye steak!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Budget Friendly Wines for Budget Friendly #SundaySupper

The theme for this week’s #SundaySupper is all about budget friendly dishes.  The thing about the best budget friendly foods is that one doesn’t feel doesn’t feel cheated.  You still can still get a delicious healthy meal if you invest a bit of time into achieving satisfying results.

It’s the same with wine.  Just like it’s not hard to find satisfaction is a steak and lobster dinner from a pricy restaurant, I don’t think it’s difficult to find a great $50 dollar bottle of wine if you know what you like.

Ah, but if I can find a $10 or 15 dollar bottle of wine that’s satisfying, that over-delivers, on some level that a more satisfying experience for me because…well who doesn’t love a good deal?

With that in mind, I offer the following tips for finding wines that offer big bang for the buck:

  1. Shop the world – The first place I look for value is Spain, but you can find great value in the lesser know regions of France (Languedoc-Roussillion), Italy (Umbria, Sicily, and Puglia come to mind) along with countries like Chile, Australia and South Africa.
  2. Domestically – Look for lesser known regions.  In California for example look for wines from Amador, Lodi, or Lake County.
  3. Find website/blogger who specializes in value.  My favorite is the Reverse Wine Snob.
  4. Shop for Trader Joe’s and Costco for wine.  Both have lots of wines that offer great value.
  5. Take a look a box wines or a quality jug wine like Gallo Hearty Burgundy.
  6. Get to know high quality value produces like Barefoot Cellars, Chateau Ste Michelle, and Cline.
  7. Get cozy with a wine shop with a diverse selection of wines.  Most will have a nice selection of “everyday” wines in the $10-$20 range.
Wine Food Group

Image courtesy of somecards.com

Check out this week’s magnificent menu of budget friendly satisfying dishes prepared by the #SundaySupper food bloggers and budget friendly wine pairings recommendations that all under $15 (most are $10 or less)!

If you’ve been following my #SundaySupper wine pairing recommendations, then you KNOW I’m a  big proponent of pairing foods with sparkling wines, which pair well with such a wide variety of foods.  Pair these wine with Kirkland Prosecco ($8). It’s a terrific value with a delightful  fresh apple, mandarin orange, and honey character. 

Pair these dishes with Riesling, the white version of a “goes with virtually anything” wine. Look for the 2012 Pacific Rim Dry Riesling ($10).  It’s from the Columbia Valley in Washington State and has a delightful yellow apple, white peach, citrus and mineral character. 

Pair these dishes with Chardonnay.  Look for the 2013 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay ($14) from Burgundy, France.  Our wine club did a blind tasting of Chardonnay from around the world last year, and this wine did well.  It’s an un-oaked Chardonnay with a classic zesty apple, citrus and mineral character. 

Pair these dishes with a Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2013 Patient Cottat “Le Grand Caillou” Sauvignon Blanc ($10).  It has a lovely tropical fruit, citrus, spice and mineral character with a tangy acidity. 

Pair these dishes with Pinot Noir, the red wine version a “goes with virtually anything”. Pinot Noir is probably the most challenging the wine you can find that offers value for the price.  I recommend the 2013 Shoofly Wines Pinot Noir ($10) from Australia.  It’s show aromatic red berry, Asian spice aromas with bright cherry, raspberry and spice flavors underscored with an appealing minerality. 

Pair these dishes with a Grenache from Spain.  One of my perennial favorites is the Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha ($10). It’s produced from high-altitude 100-year old vines in the Calatayud region.  The combination of mountain fruit and old vines produces an elegant,zesty wine with strawberry, cherry character.  

Pair these dishes with a Cabernet Sauvignon. I like the 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($10).  It’s a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Mourvedre.  It’s easy drinking  with a plum, dark cherry, and vanilla character. 

Pair these dishes with an old Italian favorite of mine, the 2013 Maritma “The 4 Old Guys” Sangiovese ($8).  It’s from the South Tuscan coast and has an easy drinking cherry, plum and earth character.

Pair these dishes with red blend.  One of my favorite is the Sherman & Hooker’s Shebang! “Seventh Cuvée” Red Blend ($12).  It’s second label by one of California’s hottest young winemakers – Morgan Twain-Peterson that’s a blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, Alicante, Petite Sirah and Sangiovese that was aged in 50% new French oak.  It has a fruity, but not jammy brambly, ripe cherry, cassis, dark chocolate character.

Try these desserts with Moscatel de Setúbel, a sweet fortified wine form the southern portion of Portugal, made from the local variety of Moscatel (Muscat).  Look for the Moscatel de Setúbal is sweet, fortified wine made from the local variety of Moscatel(Muscat).  Look for the 2011 Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setúbal ($10).  It’s rich with fragrant orange blossom, orange peel, honeyed fruit, and raisin character. 

Pair these desserts & snacks with a Moscato d’Asti.  Look for the 2013 Saracco Moscato d’Asti ($10). It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. 

Bon Appétit and Cheers!

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtagand remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Champagne Chronicles – Day 4

This is the fourth in what will be a series of five posts about my visit to Champagne

  • Day 1 - Guided tour of Reims Cathedral and Champagne dinner
  • Day 2 - C.I.V.C., Roger Coulon, and Veuve Clicquot
  • Day 3 - Louis Roederer, Rene Geoffroy, and Jacquesson

______________________________________________________________________

Last month, I had the privilege of traveling to the Champagne region in France as a guest of the U.S. Champagne Bureau for the 2014 Champagne Harvest Media Trip. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about what makes the Champagne region special via visits to 10 producers including large houses, growers and cooperatives. Our visit included exquisite meals too – all paired with Champagne!

IMG_0503

The Subé Fountain in the Place Drouet-d’Erlon.

Our itinerary for Day 4 included:

Bérêche & Fils

Bérêche & Fils, located in the village of Ludes, is a family run grower Champagne. It was founded by “Leon and Albert Bereche in 1847 with only 2.5 hectares of vineyard land in Ludes, Champagne.  The family mostly produced grapes to sell to larger houses.  Beginning in the 1950s, successive generations expanded the property and aquired land in the Vallee de la Marne.  Today, the estate has 9.5 hectares spread over 21 parcels in three areas of the Montagne de Reims and the Vallee de la Marne.

Although the family has been producing their own wines since the 1970s, it was the fifth generation of winemakers and the current owners, brothers Raphael and Vincent Bereche, that refocused the estate on production of their own wines and brought international fame and recognition for the impressive results.  The brothers studied vineyard management and oenology and practiced their craft in various traineeships. They joined the estate in the early 2000s and quickly established a reputation as talented grower-producers.  Through their leadership, the estate has shifted toward naturalistic growing methods that respect the land on which the wines are born”. (Source).  They have not used chemicals on their vineyards in 15 years.

In addition to their own Bérêche & Fils label, they have a new second label – Raphaël & Vincent Bérêche, which is their négociant business, where they produced Champagne from purchased grapes. They chose to run their second label under a different name in order to not have to change their status of their entire business grower to négociant.  It’s not unusual for successful small growers to supplement their production with purchased grapes.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Raphaël, who gave us a tour of their production facilities.  It’s a small operation, and there was a lot of activity as they were preparing for harvest.  The day we visited they were racking their reserve wine, and cleaning bottles.

We tasted the following wines:

  • NV Bereche et Fils Champagne Brut Réserve
  • NV Bereche et Fils Chardonnay Champagne Les Beaux Regards
  • NV Bereche et Fils Champagne Campania Remensis (rose)
  • 2011 Bereche et Fils Coteaux Champenois Ormes Rouge Les Montées
  • NV Bereche et Fils Champagne Reflet d’Antan
  • NV Bereche et Fils Champagne Cuvée Côte Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs
  • 2002 Bereche et Fils Champagne Vallée de la Marne Brut Millésime

My favorite was the Les Beaux Regards” bottling.  It’s made with 100% Chardonnay from 100 year-old vines in an eponymous parcel that been in the family for three generations. It is dosed as “Extra Brut”(3g/L).  It’s a gorgeous, energetic Champagne with a creamy, stone fruit, tart apple, lemon peel, honey and wet stone character.  

I came away very impressed all their wines (the 2002 Vallée de la Marne Brut Millésime was also outstanding). While it maybe challenging to find this wine, this is definitely a Grower Champagne to seek out!

See below for gallery of visit to Bereche & Fils 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Billecart-Salmon

Billecart-Salmon, situated in the village of Mareuil-sur-Ay is an independent and family-owned Champagne House founded in 1818.

It all began in 1818 when Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon founded a Champagne House that was above all conscious of the excellence of its wines. 

Since then, every member of the Billecart family has been committed to perpetuate the family tradition through standing by the immutable oath: ‘Give priority to quality, strive for excellence’.  - Billecart-Salmon

When we arrived at the Billecart-Salmon estate we were greeted by our guide Jerome, who took us on a tour of the “house”.  Unfortunately, as Jerome began his overview of Billecart, I realized I left my notebook on the bus (Doh! – perhaps too much Champagne with lunch?) The tour included the gardens, which were striking (sorry no pics – but here a link to a post that has lots of photos).  The estate sits on top of a vast network of underground cellars.

Billecart has a reputation for producing wines that offer excellent value.  In particular their multi-vintage Rosé, which retails for $75 is widely considered to be a benchmark for “affordable” Rosé Champagne (I know, I know – $75 buck is a lot of coin, but with increasing demand for Rosé Champagne many retail for well over $100).

We tasted the following wines:

  • NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé
  • NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
  • 2004 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
  • 2006 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Extra Brut
  • 1999 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart

My favorite was the 1999 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart.  It’s a blend of 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay. (10% of the pinot is fermented in barrel) with a fine bead, and a luxuriously delicate and creamy mousse with complex aromas and flavors of poach peaches, mineral, bread dough, and hazelnuts, and a long finish.  It’s a very elegant Champagne!

Learned: Champagne should be served around 12c (53-54 degrees) to fully appreciate it’s aromas and flavors.  If served too cold, you’ll miss out!  And for the first time, I heard someone suggest decanting Champagne.  Our host Jerome, suggesting decanting the Cuvée Nicolas-François for an hour. It’s an unorthodox practice, but on the surface it makes sense to me with Champagne that is mature and complex.

These are widely available Champagnes that are worth seeking out that offer very good bang for the buck. 

See below for gallery of visit to Billecart-Salmon

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Bruno Paillard

Bruno Paillard’s family lineage of brokers and growers in the two Grand Cru villages of Bouzy and Verzenay dates back to 1704. Following in their footsteps, Bruno began as a broker in 1975, and acquired a deep and extensive knowledge of the region and its wines. In 1981, at the age of 27, he started his own Champagne house – the first new maison in nearly a century. After renting a cellar for three years and purchasing carefully selected grapes from independent growers, Bruno released his first Champagnes. He then built his own cellar, allowing him total control over temperature, lighting and humidity. In 1990 Bruno built his current winery, and in 1994 began purchasing vineyards. He now has 62 acres, almost half of which are Grand Cru. The fruit from these vineyards cover 50% of his production needs and they are farmed organically and sustainably – a rigorous and delicate job given that his holdings are subdivided into 70 different parcels. Bruno sources the remaining fruit through long-term contracts with high-quality, independent growers.  Each wine is vinified separately in stainless steel (75%) and oak (25%). The exception is N.P.U. which is fermented and aged entirely in oak.” (Source) Although they are labeled as Brut, all of Paillard’s Champagnes are technically Extra Brut as their dosage is 6 grams or less per liter.  Annual production is 450,000 – 500,000 bottles.

Upon arrival at Paillard, we were greeted by Alice Paillard who gave us a tour of their facilities.  She explained to use that all their vintage wines feature original art that reflects a theme.  For example, the 1996 Brut had the them “Structure and Velvet”.   That theme was given to Italian artist Paola Marchesi, who created custom art for the label. Very cool!

We tasted the following wines:

  • NV Bruno Paillard Chardonnay Champagne Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée
  • NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvée
  • NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Rosé Brut Première Cuvée
  • 2004 Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
  • 2004 Bruno Paillard Champagne Assemblage Brut
  • 1999 Bruno Paillard Champagne Nec Plus Ultra (N.P.U.)

My favorite was the 1999 Nec Plus Ultra (N.P.U.), and the 2004 Brut Blanc de Blancs.  Both were stunningly outstanding with creamy, elegant, harmonious character. The NPU, from the excellent 1999 vintage was aged on less 10 years, then bottled aged for another 2+ years! It’s a majestic, full-bodied wine with a cherry, black currant, quince, brioche and honey character. It’s dosed at 4g/L.

Learned: Champagne producers may substitute sugar for time (i.e. rather than aging wine longer, they increase the amount of the dosage)

Paillard was my favorite visit.  The wines were all outstanding.  I can guaran-damn-tee you I’ll be buying some of these, if I can find them!

See below for gallery of visit to Bruno Paillard

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a another awesome day in Champagne wine-wise.  If you’ve been following this series, you may be wondering why there is no food porn. This was the only day we didn’t have any scheduled lunches or dinner combined with a visit to one of the producers.

And my waist line thanked me for it!

My next (and last) post in this series features a visit to the Cote des Bar - a relatively unknown but important region which makes up more than 20 percent of the appellation’s 17,000 acres. 

Wine of the Week; 2012 Tablas Creek Petit Manseng

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Tablas Creek Petit Manseng.

The Winery

Tablas Creek Vineyard (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and the Perrin Family of Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in FranceWhat I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape.  They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape.  The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyard.  Check the full story here.

The Wine

Petit Manseng is a white grape traditional to France’s southwest, where it has been used to produce the highly regarded, but not widely disseminated sweet wines of the Jurancon region for centuries. It’s a grape with naturally high acidity that can achieve sufficient concentration and sugar content to make naturally sweet wines without botrytis, or being fortified.

Tablas Creek was the first in California to produce a wine from the Petit Manseng grape variety. The 2012 vintage is TCV’s third bottling of Petit Manseng.

The wine is 100% Petit Manseng produced from grapes harvested at 30.2° Brix and a pH of 3.28.   Fermentation was stopped when it had about 42 grams/liter of sugar left and sat at an alcohol of 13.5%.  The high acidity makes it taste much drier than the sugar reading would suggest.  The wine was aged on its lees in barrel and bottled in November 2013

Because of its residual sugar and high acidity, the wine has tremendous aging potential.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Tablas Creek Petit Manseng

My tasting notes follow:

Pale gold color with appealing mango, pineapple, honey and hints of ginger, sweet spice and citrus aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied, and semi-sweet with a supple, smooth texture and very good acidity. The flavors follow the aromas with spiced sweet lemon zest joining the party. Clean lingering finish. Retail - $35 (500ml)

Rating: A-;  This was such an enjoyable wine for me!  

Pair with: I paired this with a Peach Ginger Cobbler I prepared for a food and wine pairing event (see link below), but its refreshing acidity and off-dry character make it pretty versatile, especially with spicy fare such as Spicy Thai Pumpkin Curry or Spicy Shrimp Curry.  It will also pair with salty cheeses (I loved it with 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano), or a variety of fruit-based desserts.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
Other posts you might enjoy

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Peach and Ginger Cobbler and Tablas Creek Petit Manseng for #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work; along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic.

The theme for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend is ““Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings“, and it’s all about making dishes prepared with the bounty of fall fruits and vegetable which come to mind when the air turns cool and tree blaze with color.

The Food

Ah…but Fall here in Northern California isn’t really Fall like it is elsewhere.  This time of year we’re usually in the midst of Indian Summer.

It was 85 degrees and sunny last week. The last thing on my mind was apple, sweet potatoes and pumpkins!

I headed to my local Whole Foods Market and they were promoting “Last Tango” peaches (so named because they are the last peaches of the year).  Since we were entertaining friends, and needed a dessert, I decided to make a peach cobbler.  I’ve had wild success with a Paula Deen recipe, so I decided to make that.

Except with a twist – crystallized ginger!  Why crystallized ginger?  Just a hunch.  Plus ginger is one of the aromas and flavor descriptors in my wine of choice – so I thought there might be some potential to bridge that with my wine of choice.

 

DSCN0357

Peach and Ginger Cobbler with a couple of scoops of Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Gelato – Nom, nom, nom!

This is a pretty easy recipe. In fact, the hard part for me was peeling the peaches (click here for 3 easy ways to peel peaches)

Peach and Ginger Cobbler
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10 servings
 
A Southern dessert with a spicy twist - Crystallized ginger!
Ingredients
  • 4 cups peeled, sliced fresh peaches
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 TBSP crystallized ginger; finely chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ cups self-rising flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • Ground cinnamon, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, 1 TBSP of crystallized ginger, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
  4. Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Notes
Depending on whether you prefer your cobbler with more dough or more fruit, you may adjust the amount of the flour mixture accordingly. Same thing for the crystallized ginger. Try it before you finalize to get as much or as little of the ginger flavor and spice as you prefer

The Wine

My wine choice for the cobbler is the 2012 Tablas Creek Petit Manseng.  Not familiar with Petit Manseng?

Neither was I.  But I’ve had this bottle of wine in my refrigerator for about 6 months and since I’m a wine drinker, not a wine collector I decided it was time. Beside, I love trying new grape varieties!

Petit Manseng is a white grape traditional to France’s southwest, where it has been used to produce the highly regarded, but not widely disseminated sweet wines of the Jurancon region for centuries. It’s a grape with naturally high acidity that can achieve sufficient concentration and sugar content to make naturally sweet wines without botrytis, or being fortified.

Tablas Creek was the first in California to produce a wine from the Petit Manseng grape variety.

IMG_0732

Paso Robles AVA
100% Petit Manseng
$35 (500ml), 13.5% abv.

My tasting notes follow:

Pale gold color with appealing mango, pineapple, honey and hints of ginger, sweet spice and citrus aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied, and off-dry with a supple, smooth texture and very good acidity. The flavors follow the aromas with spiced sweet lemon zest joining the party. Clean lingering finish.

The Food and Wine Pairing

When pairing wine with dessert there are three key factors to consider acidity (a wine with moderate to high acidity pairs especially well with fruit desserts which has its own natural acidity), intensity (the more intense the flavors in the dessert, the more intense the wine should be, and sweetness (a dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert itself)

The pairing was three for three and very enjoyable.  The acidity of the matched the acidity of the fruit and prepared the palate for the next bite of the cobbler.  The slightly sweet and spicy crust moderated the sweetness of the peach/ginger filling  and was a very good match for the moderate intensity, and tropical, honey, and citrus character of the wine.  And last, but not least the wine was just a tad sweeter than the cobbler. Score!

I’m looking forward to trying this wine one of my favorite ethnic foods – Spicy Thai Pumpkin Curry. It will also pair well with spicy Indian curry, salty cheese, apple pie, sweet potato pie, and foie gras!

Here’s what all of the bloggers have created for the October Wine Pairing Weekend!

Savories

Sweets

Surprise!

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings” on Saturday, October 11 from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later!

Sarah of Curious Cuisiniere (http://www.curiouscuisiniere.com/) will be hosting November’s ‪#‎winePW‬with the theme of Creative Thanksgiving Pairings. Join the fun on November 8th!

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2005 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2005 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva.

The Winery

Herederos de Marqués de Riscal, founded in 1858, is one of the oldest wineries in Rioja.  Over their long, and storied history they have been on the forefront of various innovations. They were the first winery in the Rioja to produce wines following the Bordeaux method and in 1972, it was the first winery to promote the Rueda Designation of Origin, where it produced its famous Marqués de Riscal white wines.

A benchmark winery in Rioja for more than 150 years, this producer’s recent visionary moves changed how the wine world sees Spain – Wine Enthusiast 

Marqués de Riscal sells its products in over 100 countries and its wines have enjoyed the highest international distinctions as well as numerous awards including being named the 2013 European Winery of the Year by the Wine Enthusiast.

Marques de Riscal

The Hotel de Marques de Riscal, in the heart of the City of Wine. Image courtesy fo Marques de Riscal

In addition to their world-class wine, they are also renown for their world-class hotel, and spa the Hotel Marques de Riscal (click here for a virtual tour). Designed by Frank O. Gehry, it’s an architectural marvel at the heart of City of Wine.

The Wine

A blend of Tempranillo, Marzuelo and Graciano sourced from 70-year-old vines in Rioja Alavesa.  It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged in American oak for 18 months.  It was aged in bottle another two years before being released.

13.5% alcohol; Retail - about $20 Drink: Now

IMG_0734

My tasting notes follow:

Dark brick color with appealing cherry, tobacco, vanilla, and spice. On the palate, it approaches medium-bodied, and is layered and fresh with polished tannins, and dark cherry, plum and spiced vanilla flavors. Medium + finish. This is a wine that was even better on Day 2. It picked up some earthy, savory notes and showed a hint red currant. 13.5% alcohol. >>Find this wine<<

Rating: A-: A Reserva with a bit of age on it like this one is a great introduction to traditional Rioja wines!

Pair with: Stews, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Leg of Lamb or Turkey Chili

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste Place – Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault

Lodi, the self-proclaimed “Zinfandel Capital of the World”, is a region on the rise. It’s been perceived as a region primarily known for producing “fruit bomb” style Zinfandel, and being a source of grapes used in producing value wines.

But Lodi is much more than that.  It’s the home of thousands of acres of old vine Zinfandel vineyards that date back as far as the late 1800s.  These old vines produce smaller yields which results in wines of greater structure, concentration, and complexity.

And the old vines aren’t limited to Zinfandel…

Bechthold-Vineyard-Cinsault-After-Pruning-Courtesy-Michael-David

Image courtesy of Lodiwine.com

About the Vineyard

I recently attended an online tasting that featured the Bechthold Vineyard.

Here’s what Lodiwine.com say about  the vineyard, which was recently named California’s Vineyard of the Year at the California State Fair…

Bechthold-Vineyard-Buyers-Map-Acreage-Courtesy-Michael-David

There are eight wineries that work the Bechthold vineyard. Image courtesy of Lodiwine.com

At 126 years of age, Bechthold is the oldest continuously farmed vineyard in the Lodi AVA (planted in 1886!), with 25 acres of gnarled, head trained vines. Famous for its stunningly expressive Cinsault, this venerated vineyard is not only alive and well, it is highly productive and lovingly cared for by some of the industry’s top names (Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm callsBechthold “the future of California wine… if people can ever become civilized”). 

The Tasting

The tasting was moderated by Camron King, Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, along with co-hosts Kevin Phillips, VP of Operations for Phillips Farms and Michael David Winery, and Adam Mettler, Director of Wine Operations at Michael David Winery.

We tasted through the Cinsault wines from the Bechthold Vineyard in the following order:

2013 Michael David Winery Ancient Vine Cinsault (SRP $25)
2013 Turley Wine Cellars Cinsault (SRP $17)
2012 Estate Crush Cinsault (SRP $26)
2011 Onesta Cinsault (SRP $29)

My tasting notes follow:

A Taste Place - Bechthold Vineyards Cinsault

  • 2013 Michael-David Vineyards Cinsault Ancient Vine Bechthold Vineyard 
    Red color with aromatic, but a tad hot, hazelnut, kirsch, strawberry, dried rose and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with very good acidity, a creamy texture and baked cherry, strawberry, and baking spice flavors with a lingering finish. 14.5% alcohol.  Aged 12 months in neutral French Oak (89 pts.)

A Taste Place - Bechthold Vineyards Cinsault

  • 2013 Turley Cinsault Bechthold Vineyard 
    Red color with fresh, clean but restrained strawberry, raspberry and sweet wood aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied with moderate acidity, and fresh, clean, harmonious, fresh, ripe mash-up of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry flavors. This one didn’t knock me over immediately,but its fresh clean balanced character grew on me with each sip. Medium finish. The wine is made 100% whole cluster (no de-stemming of the fruit). Turley does not inoculate the fermentations, primary and malolactic are all native.  Aged in 5-7 y.o. barrels. 1000 cases produced.  At retail of $17, this easily offers the best value of the bunch for me.(90 pts.)

A Taste Place - Bechthold Vineyards Cinsault

  • 2012 Estate Crush Cinsault Bechthold Vineyard
    Red color with appealing, aromatic roast hazelnut, candied cherry, strawberry, and a bit of leather aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with moderate acidity and sour cherry and spice flavors. Medium finish.  13.8% alcohol. 100 cases produced (89 pts.)

A Taste Place - Bechthold Vineyards Cinsault

  • 2011 Onesta Cinsault Bechthold Vineyard 
    Dark red color with an appealing mixture of musk, black cherry, strawberry aromas with a hint of caramel. On the palate it light-bodied moderate to very good acidity and fresh raspberry, strawberry, spice and a bit of mineral flavors. Medium finish. Aged 9 months in neutral oak. 370 cases produced. (90 pts.)

My Takeaways

  • It was a fun and informative tasting that reinforced my belief that old-vine fruit is special.
  • Bechthold Cinsault ancient vine fruit is singular among Cinsault. In fact it was noted that most Cinsault is better used as a blending grape.
  • With different vintages and vinification of the fruit one would expect the wines to be significantly different, but they shared a certain elegance, and an alluring concentrated red berry and spice character.
  • The wines brought to mind Cru Beaujolais for me – ample red fruit, spice, low tannins and good to very good acidity.
  • Any of these wine would be great at the table for Thanksgiving!

Many thanks to Lodi Wines and Charles Communications Associates (“CCA”) for providing the sample wines!

If you would like to see the recorded video of the tasting of the wines, please visit the Brandlive site by clicking here.  I highly recommend viewing the video for the wealth of information and insight provided.

Related posts you might enjoy:

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.