Chablis:The Spirit of Chardonnay – In The Glass And At The Table

I love minerally, acid-driven white wines. They are refreshing and delicious on their own, and a great companion for a wide variety of foods at the table.

So, I was thrilled when I received four sample bottles of Chablis from Pure Chablis a couple of months back.

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About Chablis

Pure Chablis is a trade organization that promotes and strengthens the image of Chablis wine in the US. Their motto is “Pure Chablis, one grape, one region, one of a kind. Pure Chablis, only from France”

The groups advocacy for Chablis is necessary because here in the US, there are cheap jug wines labeled as either “Chablis” or “White Burgundy”  that are misleading consumers and giving the Chablis “brand” a bad name.

So what, exactly is Chablis? Here’s an overview of the region…

Chablis Map

  • Wine has been made in Chablis for centuries.  The founding of the village of Chablis dates back to Roman times, as do Chablis’ wines.
  • It’s the northernmost subregion of Burgundy.  It located in the Yonne department between Paris and Beaune, a short hop from the Champagne region.
  • Chardonnay is the only grape variety permitted in Chablis
  • Granted AOC (appellation) status in 1938
  • What gives the region its unique “terroir” is a combination of its climate (harsh, cold and wet), and its clay soil referred to as Kimmeridge clay, that is composed of limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells.

A unique territory and terroir - Image courtesy of Pure Chablis

A unique territory and terroir – Image courtesy of Pure Chablis

  • Chablis has four appellations (in ascending order of quality, power and depth)
    1. Petit Chablis – Represents an entry-level Chablis.  Intended to be consumed young. Vineyards are located on flat ground.
    2. Chablis – The grapes for this level are grown on north and east-facing hills.  These wines tend to show a bit more minerality, due to the high limestone content in the soil of the region.
    3. Chablis Premier Cru – The grapes for this level are grown on south and west-facing hills.  As the name suggests, this level of quality takes it up a notch and produces wine with better aging potential.
    4. Chablis Grand Cru – This is the upper echelon of Chablis, with only about 230 acres situated on one hill, on the north bank of the Serein River.  There are only seven vineyards from which to source the Grand Cru Chablis grapes. This level has the greatest potential for aging.

And in my mind, nowhere in the world does the spirit of Chardonnay manifest itself better than Chablis.  That’s because of its unique terroir and because the wines rarely reveal any oak.   Instead Chablis is strongly influenced by its Kimmeridge soil that was a seabed some 150 million years ago. The result is wines that show a distinct sense of place and a minerality that I love.  I also think most of the wines end to be wonderfully undervalued.  There are plenty of very good to outstanding bottles to be had for under $20, and even the more expense Premier and Grand Cru bottles excellent relative value.

Chablis is Chardonnay, but not every Chardonnay is Chablis“ – Rosemary George,MW

 

Chablis In The Glass And At The Table

In the past I’ve mostly enjoyed Chablis as an aperitif, or with a typical food pairing for such as oysters, snails, light seafood dishes, and poultry.  But with its high acidity, I wanted to try it with some other food.

So, over the course of a couple of months, I paired it with a variety of foods/cuisines.  My tasting notes and the results of the pairings follow:

2014 Domaine Servin Chablis Les Pargues – France, Burgundy, Chablis
Very pale yellow-green color with beautiful hay, white flower, green apple, citrus and wet stone aromas. On the palate, it’s taut, and focused with mouth-watering acidity, and wonderful minerality with green apple, lemon and a hint of peach flavors. Long finish. (90 pts.)  Great QPR at $20 SRP!

The wine paired well with a homemade Salmon Burger.  Pairing the wine with a Chablis rather than a lighter bodied  Petit Chablis was a good choice.  

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A homemade Salmon burger! Yum!

2014 Jean-Marc Brocard Petit Chablis – France, Burgundy, Chablis, Petit Chablis
Very pale yello-green color with restrained apple, citrus and slate aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied and fresh with apple, lime, a hint of grapefruit and under ripe white peach flavors and a solid satisfying finish. (87 pts.)

The wine was a very good paired with a few sushi rolls from our local favorite Japanese restaurant

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Take out sushi from our favorite Japanese restaurant

2014 Domaine Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis – France, Burgundy, Chablis, Petit Chablis
Very pale green color with wet clay, bruised apple, chalk and lime aromas. On the palate it’s very fresh with an appealing minerality, and green apple, lime and a hint of white peach peeking through. (88 pts.)

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We paired this wine with take out Thai food. It paired especially well with pad Thai and crab fried rice.  And it found what I call “peaceful coexistence” with yellow curry and lemon fish.  This was a bit of an eye-opener. In the past I’ve typically paired Thai food with Riesling, Gewürztraminer or perhaps a Viognier. Chablis is now on my list too!

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Thai take out with Pad Thai, crab-fried rice and lemon fish

2014 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis – France, Burgundy, Chablis
Very pale green color with buttered toast, green apple, lemon, lime and wet stone aromas. On the palate it’s approaches medium-bodied and is very fresh with green apple, mixed citrus and a hint of white peach flavors and an appealing minerality with a lingering finish. (90 pts.) Great QPR at $20!

We paired this with take out savory crepes from a local creperie.  It was an excellent match for both a Greek crepe of grilled eggplant, asparagus and tomatoes with feta cheese in pesto sauce, and a Florentine crepe of spinach and mushroom with mozzarella in pesto sauce

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A Greek crepe – grilled eggplant, asparagus and tomatoes with feta cheese in pesto sauce

My takeaway?  While Chablis has a well deserved reputation for being a great aperitif and an excellent match with fish, shellfish and light poultry dishes, it’s a more than capable partner at the table for a wide variety of dishes.  

For some great tips on matching food and Chablis click here

Check out the video below for more information about Chablis!

Wines provided as a samples for review.  Many thanks to Pure Chablis, the Chablis Commission and the BIVB!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Tavel Paired with Spring BBQ #WinePW

We’re pairing fresh, seasonal spring foods with wines from the diverse and fascinating Southern Rhône region of France.

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 (or learn from the ones that don’t); along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic. Jill Barth of from L’occasion is hosting this month’s Spring Meal Pairings for Southern Rhône Wines theme.  

On my plate

It was a sunny warm day in the Bay Area last weekend. And I was in the mood for smoked meat!  When I’m in such mood, I usually smoke pork ribs in my Weber.  But I was looking for a healthier option and I wanted to try something new.

I decided to smoke some chicken (which I’ve always barbecued).

The wine was no brainer for me.  I adore rosé, which I drink year-round, so that was my choice for my Spring BBQ plate of Smoked chicken, Potato Salad, and Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Chips.

In my glass

Provence was top of mind, but when I think of rose from Provence I think of light-bodied rose with a character that is closer to a white wine than a red wine.  With the smoked chicken, I wanted a more substantial rose that was closer in character to a red wine.

My thoughts then shifted to Bandol and Tavel. Then I learned (I’d not really thought about it before given the the fact that Provence and the Southern Rhone share geographic proximity) that Provence isn’t considered to be part of the Rhone.  And since Bandol is in Provence…Tavel was the last man standing so to speak.  And that was just fine with me! I’m a big fan of Tavel.

Image source; http://www.goodfoodrevolution.com/tavel-rose-intro/

Image courtesy of goodfoodrevolution.com

About Tavel

Tavel is a tiny, sleepy town of less than 2,000 sandwiched between the Languedoc and Provence in the southern Rhône Valley across the Rhône River from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and just north of Avignon.

Tavel’s vineyards date back to the Greek era and the 5th Century BC.  During the middle ages, wines from the region were a staple of the ancient papal court in nearby Avignon and a favorite of Louis XIV and Philippe le Bel  – so much so that they decreed that nothing else should be produced. To this day, Tavel is synonymous with rosé.  In fact, this AOC created in 1936, has dubbed themselves “Le Roi des Rosés” – “ The King of Roses”.

Gorgeous Tavel dresses in a thousand shades of pink to seduce and captivate the senses. Luminous like no other wine, it inspires the chef, the eater and the eaten. – Christophe Tassan; Sommelier and Rhone Ambassador

It is one of the 18 crus (meaning it truly express their individual ‘terroir’) of Rhone, putting in on par with the likes of the more renown crus such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Côte-Rôtie. It  is the only communal appellation in France exclusively for rosé wines.

Grenache reigns as the primary varietal for the Tavel blends. Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah & a few other Rhone varieties are often used in smaller amounts.  The wines contain a maximum 60% Grenache, and have a maximum alcohol content of 13.5%. The best examples of Tavel – always bone dry – combine freshness with complexity of fruit and intensity.  And most, when cellared correctly, will improve for several years in bottle.

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My tasting notes:

2014 Cave de Tavel Lauzeraies – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel 
Deep pink-red color with strawberry, cherry, and a hint of rose aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with strawberry, cherry, white pepper, spice and a hint of citrus flavors.  Blend of  50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre.  A steal for $10 (no doubt because it’s from the 2014 vintage)  Very Good ; 88-89 pts.  Will buy more!

The food and wine pairing

In a word pairing of my Spring BBQ plate of smoked chicken, potato salad, and potato chips was “Scrumdiddlyumptious! It was a great pairing. I love a robust rose with some weight for BBQ. And this Tavel is was great example of the weight of the wine being a match for the weight of the food.  It is truly un vin gastronomique!

Check out the other food and wine pairing put together by the other Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers for this month’s Spring Meal Pairings for Southern Rhône Wines theme.

If you’re up early join us Saturday, April 9th at 11 am EST/8 PST for a live Twitter chatter using #WinePW.  Anyone interested in food and wine pairing is welcome to join the chat.  For a list of past and upcoming #winePW events, visit the Wine Pairing Weekend calendar here. We’d love to have you online with us!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Cross-Cultural Food and Alscace Wine Pairings with Trimbach Riesling

I can hardly believe it, but after giving it much thought, I came to realize that I’ve never had a still wine from Alsace!  I’ve always wanted to because when it comes to dry white wines made from Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, Alsace has a reputation for being the preeminent wine region in the world!  And I’m a big fan of all the aforementioned grape varieties, especially Riesling and Pinot Gris! 

Which is why I’m excited the French Winophiles (#Winophiles) virtual tour of France takes us to Alsace this month

Alsace Region 1

Image courtesy of Wines Of Alsace

While I’ve not had any still Alsatian wines, I’ve had quite a few Cremant d’Alsace, which is the sparkling wine produced in the region using the same painstaking traditional method used in Champagne.  Indeed, my current favorite under $20 sparkling rosé is the  Allimant Laugner Cremant d’Alsace Rosé.  If you’re looking for a sophisticated sparkling rose wine that won’t break the bank, I highly recommend checking out a pink Cremant d’Alsace!

About the Alsace

Alsace is tucked into the northeast corner of France.  It lies between the Vosges mountains and the French border with Germany, marked by the Rhine river.  Because of its strategic location, the region has switched back and forth between French and German sovereignty in recent centuries.  As a result, Alsace is a mish-mash of both cultures, as evidenced by its architecture,  and language (though mostly French is spoken these days, German, and other Alsatian dialects may be heard)

alsace-france-map

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that Alsace wines are dominated by German grape varieties, (Alsace is the only French wine region to grow significant quantities of Riesling and Gewürztraminer), but crafted in a distinctive style.

Think German grapes with a French soul!

The Alsace wine-growing region is long and narrow.  Its wines are produced under three AOCs (aka Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée): Alsace and Alsace Grand Cru for still white wines (both sweet and dry), and Cremant d’Alsace for sparkling.  White varietal wines make up 90% of production.  The Riesling is the dominant grape variety, but Pinot Blanc is a close second, followed by Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Alsace AOC wines make up 74% of the wines produced in the region followed by Cremant d’Alsace (22%) and Alsace Grand Cru (4%). All Alsace wines are bottled in a tall thin bottle known as a Flûte d’Alsace.

In my glass

Because Riesling is the signature grape of the region, and Trimbach arguably the region’s most renown producer, I chose the 2012 Trimbach Riesling.  It was ranked  of Wine Spectators Top 100 Wines of 2014. And the The price was certainly right at $17!

Everything about Trimbach, from its charming estate to its sleek wines to the family that makes them, is elegant, understated, and classic. – Ed Comstock; The Terroirist

Trimbach is a family owned and operated winery that has been making wine since 1626!

2012 Trimbach Riesling Alsace

My tasting notes follow:

The wine pours a pale golden yellow color with promising petrol, ocean spray, citrus, peach and touch of honey aromas. On the palate it’s between light and medium-bodied, and dry with mouthwatering acidity. It’s sleek, understated and impeccably structured with a great texture. It shows white peach, honey, and citrus (sometimes lime, sometime lemon, even a whisper of mandarin orange) flavors with a long concentrated finish.

The Food Pairings

I was all set to prepare an Alsatian dish – Choucroute au poisson –Sauerkraut with Fish in Cream Sauce, when my wife announced she was planning to prepare Chicken Estofado.

Sauerkraut, or choucroute as it is known in Alsace, along with pork are major players in Alsatian cuisine.  I’m not a huge sauerkraut fan, but I like to keep an open mind to new culinary experiences.  But I wasn’t bitterly disappointed when my wife told me of her plans.

Chicken Estofado is similar to Chicken Adobo, but the use of plantain and star anise gives the dish a distinctive flavor while adding a bit of spice and sweetness.

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Chicken Estofado – A Filipino dish I enjoyed for the first time during my first visit to the Philippines last month.

I had this dish for the first time when we visited the Philippines last month. It was my first visit. And this was one of the more memorable dishes for me.

My sister-in-law passed along the recipe (sort of a recipe really – more like an Ole Skool “here’s the stuff the goes into it with no specific measurements) to my wife.

Chicken Estofado
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Filipino
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 Servings
 
A variation of Chicken Adobo that uses plantain and star anise to create a distinctive variation on the Filipino classic
Ingredients
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • ½ chopped onion
  • ½ c pineapple juice
  • 2 Star anise pods
  • 2TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBSP vinegar
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • 1lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Plantain
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil
Instructions
  1. Season chicken chunks with salt and pepper.
  2. Pan fry in a non-stick pan in 1 or 2 TBSP of olive oil until browned. Set aside chicken pieces
  3. In the same pan, garlic until fragrant and slightly brown. Add chopped onion and continue to cook another 5-10 minutes until soft.
  4. Add chicken back to pan
  5. Add soy sauce, vinegar, pineapple, bay leaves, and star anise pods.
  6. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  7. While chicken simmering, in a separate pan , brown sliced plantain in 3 TBSP of olive oil for 5-7 minutes.
  8. Add plantain to chicken and simmer for the last 10 min or so of the simmering chicken.
  9. Serve over rice

The other dish we prepared was Seafood (Shrimp & Oyster), Chicken, and Andouille Sausage Gumbo(you’ll find my “base” recipe here). We usually make the dish every New Year’s day, but we were in the Philippines this year, so we didn’t get around to it until now.

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My Seafood, Chicken, and Andouille Sausage Gumbo. Since the Dungeness crab season has been postponed indefinitely, I topped with crab meat

The wine paired wonderfully with both dishes.  The wine’s crackling acidity provided cleansed the palate, and the weight and texture of the wine complimented both dishes.  If I While both pairings were very good, if I had to choose one over the other, I’d give the edge to wine with the Chicken Estofado.

Check out these other wonderful food and wine pairings my fellow French #Winophiles are featuring for this week’s Alsace theme!

If you’re reading this early enough, join us Saturday, February 18th for a live Twitter Chat at 10 am CST using #Winophiles.

Upcoming #Winophiles events: Loire Valley Tour

  • March 19th  – Pays/Nantes
  • April 16th – Anjou/Saumer
  • May 21st – Touraine/Vouvray
  • June 18th  – Upper Loire – Cheverny, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume/Pouilly-Sur-Loire

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of Burgundy #winophiles

Welcome to this month’s French Winophiles!  We’re group a food and wine bloggers pulled together by Christy of Adventures of a Culinary Diva.  We’re taking a virtual tour of France region by region and learning about French cuisine, wine and travel.  This month we’re exploring legendary Burgundy (a.k.a. Bourgogne)

 About Burgundy

Steeped in centuries of history, tradition, and mystique, Burgundy is an exemplar for world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  It is one of the world’s most renown wine regions.

In spite of, or perhaps more accurately because of, its reputation (the wines can be prohibitively expensive and premox can an issue with white Burgundy), my only experience with Burgundy has been Chablis(love it), Beaujolais, and Crémant de Bourgogne.

I simply had to try at least a red Premier Cru Burgundy!

“You admire great Bordeaux but you fall in love with great Burgundy”  Neal Martin

For the uninitiated , white Burgundies are made from 100% Chardonnay. Red Burgundies are made from 100% Pinot Noir. You won’t see the name of the grape variety on the labels.

Located in the east-central part of France, Burgundy has 5 principal wine growing areas (excluding Beaujolais and Châtillonnais):

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Source: Decanter (http://goo.gl/I7lIVJ)

The most renown of the wine growing regions are Chablis and Côte d’ Or – home to Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. 

Burgundy is all about terroir.  And The Climats  and lieux-dits are the ultimate expression of the notion of terroir.  Climat is a traditional Bourgogne word for a precisely delimited plots of land that enjoy specific geographical and climatic conditions.

A Taste of Burgundy

Image courtesy of Bourgogne Wines

Last year Burgundy was awarded Unesco World Heritage Status for its viticultural heritage, its 1,247 Climats, or individual terroirs, of the Côte d’Or, and the historic centres of Beaune and Dijon .

Though the word may remind you of climate, it comes from the Greek “klima”, and then the Latin “climatis”, which means slope. Lieux-dit are also plots recognized for their own topographic or historical specificities.  But they are not registered by the INAO (Be sure to check out the excellent Bourgogne Wines website for more info)  One may find several lieux-dit within a Climat, or a Climat may only cover part of a lieux-dit.  One can see how that might be confusing.

I think I’ll just stick to main levels of Burgundy classifications, in descending order of perceived quality, Grand crusPremier crus, village appellations, and finally regional (Bourgogne) appellations

Ah, but Burgundy is not just about wine.  The region’s famous vineyards are bookmarked by two  of France’s food capitals – Dijon (the mustard capital of the world)   and Lyon.  Many classic French dishes originate from the region including Coq Au Vin, Escargot a la Bourguignonne,and Boeuf Bourguignon (did Julia Child just pop into any else’s head?). Not to mention other gastronomic delights including cheese (Epoisses de Bourgogne) and bread ( pain d’epice)

Let Paris be France’s head, Champagne her soul; Burgundy her stomach – The Concise World Atlas of Wine

 

On Plate and In My Glass

I received, as a sample, a book entitled Chablis; A Geographical Lexicon from  by Jean-Paul Droin.  The idea was to learn more about Chablis, then taste a wine from one of a Chablis Premier Cru.  In this case, it was the wine the 2012 Sebastien Dampt Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons.

The book was informative (e.g., I didn’t know there Chablis winegrowing region covers 20 communes with the River Serein running through it.  And that the river divides it into two distinct parts left bank and right bank)   It’s a must read if you have an interest in the etymology and history behind the names of Chablis Climats.

Chablis Escargot

My tasting notes on the wine follow: 

Pale yellow-green color with green reflections. It’s  aromatic with buttered bread, oyster shell, baked green apple, white flower and a hint of spice aromas. On the palate it medium bodied, fresh, focused,  and harmonious with green apple , pear, bit of Meyer lemon and spice flavors. Long finish. Highly recommended.

I paired the wine with a Chablisien classic – Escargots a la Bourguignonne (Snails in Garlic-Herb Butter), and sautéed garlic asparagus accompanied by a loaf of crusty french bread. We topped our the meal with a fabulous Saint Angel triple cream cheese from Fromagerie Guilloteau in the Cotes du Rhone region of France.

(Note: I’ve included a link to the escargot recipe, but I found an oven ready escargot in garlic-herb sauce at my local Whole Foods Market)

The wine was fantastic with the entrée. And I especially enjoyed crusty french bread dipped in the garlic herb sauce with a sip of the Chablis.  In a word – divine! The wine was a very good complement to the buttery notes and chalky texture of the cheese.  

I simply couldn’t take a virtual tour of Burgundy with trying a red wine.  In keeping with the Premier Cru theme established with the Chablis, I chose the 2012 Domaine Bart “Hervelets” Fixin 1er Cru.  It my first Premier Cru Burgundy!

The Fixin appellation, which received official recognition in 1936, produces both appellations Village and Premier Cru. There are six Premier Cru Climats.

Fixin

Image courtesy of the Burgundy Report

From the Bourgogne website – Fixin (pronounced “Fissin”) is situated in the Côte de Nuits region between Dijon and Gevrey-Chambertin. In 1860 it merged with the neighbouring hamlet of Fixey. As well as wine-cellars, attractions for visitors include the 10th century church of Saint-Antoine, the manor of La Perrière where once the monks of Cîteaux came to enjoy the good air and the good wine, François Rude’s famous statue in the Parc Noisot of Napoleon in the process of becoming immortal, a particularly handsome communal laundry and the slate-covered village breadoven. Here there are a thousand things to see, not to mention many welcoming wine cellars.

Here’s where things may get confusing – the Premier Cru Climats of Les Meix Bas, and Les Arvelets may be labeled as Les Hervelets. But Les Hervelets cannot be sold as Les Arvelets or Les Meix Bas!

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My tasting notes follow:

A subtle touch of pencil shavings sets off ripe and relatively elegant notes of black and red cherry, earth, warm spice with pretty floral notes. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and layered with intense mixed red and black cherry, red currant flavors with ample minerality, and a subtle rustic character wrapped around dusty well-integrated tannins and bright acidity.Approachable now, but would benefit from further aging.  Highly recommended and a very good value at $40!

We paired the wine with a quick weeknight dinner of grilled salmon and sautéed spinach.  Again we capped off our meal with another double cream cheese from France. This one was the decadent Fromager d’Affinois with Truffles.   Pinot Noir is the most food friendly red wine in my book and it paired very well with our meal.  And it was other worldly with the cheese! 

Check out what my fellow French #winophiles are bringing to the table this month!

Don’t forget to join the live Twitter Chat this Saturday (Jan. 16, 2016) at 8 am PST (1700 hours in Beaune, France!) Just search for the hashtag #winophiles. We love new participants, if you would like to join us, just let us know.  Stay tuned for our February visit to Alsace. Au revoir!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received the bottle of Chablis and book at no cost from Sopexa on behalf of the Chablis Commission.  I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

The Mystery Wines of the Loire Valley

Last month, I was thrilled when I received an invitation to participate in a fun competition for the 2016 Wine Blog Trophy. Organized by the Loire Valley Wine Trade Fair, which takes place in Angers from February 1 to 3, 2016, the essence of the competition is to guess the appellation and vintage of two mystery bottles (one each white and red) of wine from the Loire Valley. 

I was excited about the competition because I’m a big fan of the Loire Valley.  My favorite under $20 sparkling rosé wine is a Crémant de Loire. But, I’m also a big fan of the whites (Muscadet [my go-to wine for raw oysters], Sancerre, and Vouvray), rosé, and reds (Chinon and Bourgueil) of the region.

And hey….win, lose, or draw, it’s Loire Valley wine at no cost to me.

What’s not to like?

Loire Valley Wine Blog Trophy

The friendly competition was open to both American, Irish and French wine bloggers.

After tasting the two wines, were asked to go on www.wineblogtrophy.com to register our answers and tasting notes.

The first blogger who will give the two correct answers wins the Wine Blog Trophy 2016!

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The winners were (L-R):were Côte Roannaise (2014 – Domaine Sérol, Eclat de Granite), and Coteaux du Giennois (2014 – Vignobles Berthier, Terre de Silex)

After receiving the wines, I tasted and wrote up my tasting notes:

Cuvée 886 – Pale yellow with lemon, grass, quince, and wet stone aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied, fresh and easy-going with lemon, quince, and under ripe white peach flavors with a nice vein of herbaceousness.

Cuvée 412 – Dark ruby color with red berry, black currant,  and mineral aromas with a kiss of floral aromatics. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, fresh,  and nicely balanced with black cherry, raspberry, black currant flavors underscored by an appealing minerality.  My wife and I enjoyed it with Paella Mixta of salmon and sausage.

My guess for the appellation both wines was Fief Vendéens.  In terms of vintage, I guessed 2013 for the red and 2014 for the white.

Why Fief Vendeens? I thought the red was a blend of (mostly) Gamay and Cabernet France. And I thought the white was a blend of (mostly) Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc.

I logged on the aforementioned website to register my guess, but I was too late.  The competition was over!

It’s just as well…I was wrong.

The two appellations of the Mystery Bottles were Côte Roannaise for Cuvée 412 (2014 – Domaine Sérol, Eclat de Granite), and Coteaux du Giennois for Cuvée 886 (2014 – Vignobles Berthier, Terre de Silex)

The winner was Yann DEREU – www.ah-le-vin.blogspot.fr, who correctly guessed one of the two appellations/vintages correctly.

Both these are new to me appellations (as was Fief Vendéens).  Once I found out which appellations the wines were from, I checked out the excellent Loire Valley Wines website for more information.

Côte Roannaise, located in the far south of the Loire region, produces rosé and red wines exclusively from Gamay.

Coteaux du Giennois is an appellation on the eastern edge of the Loire Valley northeast of Sancerre produces almost equal amounts of light-bodied red and white wines, with a small portion of dry rosé as well. The whites are Sauvignon Blanc.

The Fiefs Vendéens is a relatively small appellation produces a wealth of wines: white (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Grolleau Gris, Sauvignon Blanc), rosé and red (Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Négrette).

This was a fun competition for me. I very much enjoyed learning about a few new-to-me wine appellations in the Loire Valley. Both the wines were delightful.  And I expect nothing less from the Loire Valley!

More About the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley, two hours southwest of Paris is known as “the Garden of France” due its abundance of fertile farmland that include vineyards along with fruit and vegetable farms which line the banks of both sides of the Loire River. The Loire is the longest river in France.
It’s also known as the Land Of A Thousand Chateau. The region has a rich heritage featuring historic towns of AmboiseAngersBloisChinonNantesOrléansSaumur, and Tours.

“The Loire is a garden, a mosaic of tastes and flavors with 45 appellations that attract curious wine lovers.” – Jean-Pierre Gouvazé

From a vinous perspective, the Loire Valley is one of the largest wine regions of France.  It covers fifteen departments and 52,000 hectares (128,000 acres) of vines shared between 7000 growers, who produce nearly 400 million bottles of wines annually.  It’s so large it’s 60 appellations are spread over three large areas – The Western (home of Muscadet – home of my favorite still wine for oysters!), Middle (Vouvray, Touraine and Chinon) and the Upper Loire (includes, arguably the regions most well-known appellations Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume). It’s France’s most diverse wine region producing red, white, rosé, sweet and sparkling wines.

Tale Of A Crémant de Loire Brut Rose At The Table #Winophiles

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received wines at no cost from Clement et Florian Berthier, Domaine Robert Sérol, and Loire Valley Wines.  I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

 

A Taste of Krug Champagne Redux

Last year, I was had the honor of being invited to a private Krug Champagne tasting at my favorite wine store – K&L Wine Merchants.  I recapped that phenomenal tasting in a post entitled “A Taste of Champagne Krug“.

Much to my surprise and delight, Gary Westby, K&L’s Champagne Buyer invited me to another Krug Champagne tasting several months back.  Except this time, the tasting was with Olivier Krug, the sixth generation of the venerable Krug Champagne family.

With #ChampagneDay upon us, I can’t think of a better time to recap this extraordinary tasting of the most memorable wines I’ve enjoyed this year!

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The House of Krug

Krug was established in 1843 by Johann Joseph Krug, and silent partner Hippolyte de Vivès, a member of the family of the founder of Veuve Clicquot  They produced the first Krug et Cie blend in 1845.  After Joseph’s death in 1861, his son Paul was the first of five successive generations of Krug’s in the business.

In 1999 Krug was acquired by the multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton S.A. LVMH also owns grande marque Champagne houses Mercier, Moët & Chandon, Montaudon, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin.

Despite LVMH’s majority ownership, the Krug family is still actively involved in all the key decisions of the house but does not manage the day-to-day operations.  Olivier Krug, who has  been in the business since 1989, became house director in 2009, the same year that LVMH named Margareth “Maggie” Henriquez President & CEO of Krug

Krug produces about 40,000 cases annually (It’s relatively small house), and 80% of that production is the Krug Grand Cuvée.  In addition to the Grand Cuvée, Krug also produces a multi-vintage Rosé,Vintage Brut, a vintage single vineyard blanc de blanc known as Clos du Mesnil, and a vintage single vineyard blanc de noir known as Clos d’Ambonnay, and older vintages release as Krug Collection series.  Krug is the only Champagne house that produces five prestige cuvées.

For an excellent, more detailed deep dive on Krug, check out Alder Yarrow’s (Vinography)  “Krug: A Quintessence of Champagne

The Tasting

We tasted the same wines as we did last year…with one huge exception…

We also tasted the newly released 2003 Krug Clos du Mesnil!

Yes, boys and girls…dreams do come true!

Olivier Krug  and team presented the wines. Krug has no direct operational role in the business.  But he touches everything that connects Krug to its audience – from grape growers to vendor, and of course consumers.  He is a charming, entertaining, and masterful story-teller.

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As I listened to the Krug story, there are many things that set Krug apart from other Champagne producers. Here are a few:

The first is that Krug doesn’t make any secondary, or entry-level wines.  In fact, all other Krug Champagne is measured against the multi-vintage Grand Cuvée, their least expensive wine.  Unlike most large producers of multi-vintage Champagne who strive for consistency of flavor year end, and year out, the Krug Grand Cuvée is not meant to taste the same each year.

It was Krug’s multi-vintage Grand Cuvée, that debunked the myth that vintage Champagne is inherently superior to multi-vintage Champagne.

…unlike other great Champagne producers, Krug makes only prestige cuvées. Instead of its multi-vintage Grande Cuvée being a secondary wine, created after the vintage wine is assembled, Krug has, from the beginning, turned the region’s usual practice on its head by devoting its attentions to the multi-vintage Cuvée first, as the house’s flagship. – Richard Jennings

Next, according to Olivier KrugI believe we are the only major house to vinify every single plot separately,”  In 2014  they harvested, and pressed 240 individual plots(in the nearest convenient location to the vineyard). The pressed juice was then brought back to the main facility, where they were barrel fermented in 240 separate lots!

Finally, Krug is also leading the way among the great Champagne houses in becoming more transparent. Since September 2011, each bottle of Krug has a six digit number on the back label referred to as the Krug ID.  You can type this number into a box on Krug’s website to learn the story of that particular bottling, including the vintage(s) in the wine, the percentage of grape varieties used, and when the bottle was disgorged.

The essence of Champagne is pleasure – Olivier Krug

As for the wines? Simply the best line-up of Champagne I’ve ever tasted!

My tasting notes follow:

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Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée – Light yellow color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles and an explosion of complex, hazelnut, yeast, orange zest, dried cherry, and subtle honey aromas. On the palate, it’s broad, and rich with a delicate mousse and lively acidity. It shows delicious pear, hazelnut, lemon, apricot and subtle honey flavors. Long rich satisfying finish. ID = 213032 Disgorged Spring 2013. 44% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 21% Pinot Meunier. Blend of 142 wines from 11 different years. Oldest wine from 1990, youngest wine from 2006. This is Champagne that made me a believer that Vintage Champagne isn’t always better than multi-vintage Champagne. (94-95 pts.); Retail – $150 Click to buy.

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Image courtesy of www.harpers.co.uk

2003 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut – Golden yellow color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles, and rich hazelnut, brioche, citrus peel, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s complex, refined and well structured with a rich delicate mousse and ample apples, tart lemon, hazelnut, subtle spice and mineral flavors. Long finish. ID = 113015. Disgorged Winter 2012/13 Blend of 46% PN, 29% Chardonnay, and 25% Pinot Meunier.  Known as “Vivacious Radiance” at Krug (94-95 pts.); Retail – $229 Click to buy.

2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut – Pale yellow color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles, and penetrating almond, date, yeast, apple, citrus, ginger, vanilla and subtle spice aromas. On the palate, it intense and refined with a delicate creamy mousse, and apple, pear, mineral, lemon/lime, and subtle spice flavors. Long finish. ID = 412048; Disgorged Autumn 2012. Blend of 42% Pinot Noir, 43% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier. Known as “Stormy Indulgence” at Krug (95-96 pts.); Retail – $229 Click to buy.

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2003 Krug Champagne Clos du Mesnil – Bright yellow gold color with a very fine persistent bead. It’s aromatically complex with very appealing hazelnut, citrus-laced creme fraiche, ginger, and and an earthiness that suggests spiced roast coffee grounds. On the palate, it’s powerful, elegant, pure and impeccably balanced with a delicate, super creamy mousse. It shows quince, ginger, honey, candied citrus, and subtle spice flavors complemented by a sublime minerality with long lemony finish. Easily the best Blanc de Blanc I have ever tasted. 100 % barrel fermented Chardonnay from the 1.84 hectare walled Clos du Mesnil vineyard (96-97 pts.); Retail – $899 Click to buy.

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Krug Champagne Brut Rosé – Salmon color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles, and very appealing complex, sweet yeast raspberry,strawberry, citrus and subtle nutty aromas. On the palate it’s elegant and rich with a delicate, creamy mousse and ample red fruit flavors of raspberries, strawberry, and watermelon along with lemon/lime, mineral, hazelnut and a sublime savoriness. Long finish. A deathbed wine for me!  ID = 113016. Oldest wine – 2000, youngest wine – 2006. Blend of 59% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, and % Pinot Meunier. Disgorged Winter 2012/2013 (95-96 pts.); Retail – $279 Click to buy.


After the tasting, we were invited to partake of the bevy of bottles of Krug Champagne beckoning us…

I went back for more Clos du Mesnil and the Brut Rose!

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I can’t believe it! I’m almost ALWAYS the one with his eyes closed in photos. Sorry Olivier!

Then I went and purchased my first bottle of Krug (I have a feeling that wherever Olivier goes…Krug sells;-)

It was a bottle of the Grand Cuvée, which Olivier was kind enough to sign for me.

It’s official…I am now a Krug Lover!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of Gigondas and Vacqueyras #Winophiles

Wine, like traveling, is relative I suppose. Here’s what I mean.  Have you ever completed one of those online Facebook questionnaires that is supposed to tell you how well-traveled you are?  I have.  Just when I think you’ve done more than your fair share of travel, you realize there are so many more places you want to go!

I think it’s the same with wine.  I consider myself pretty “well-traveled” wine wise.  But last week I read Eric Asimov’s latest “Wine School” about Gigondas, and I realized  that while I’ve tried plenty of  wines from the Southern Rhone, I’d never tried a wine from Gigondas. Or from Vacqueyras, also mentioned in the piece  (Confession: I’ve never enjoyed a Northern Rhone wine – I know I can’t believe it either!).

Since the focus of this month’s French Winophiles is the Rhone Valley, it was a perfect opportunity to get a taste of Gigondas and  Vacqueyras.

The Rhone Valley

The Rhône Valley is located in Southwest France.  It is divided into two sub-regions; North and South. The North is the birthplace of Syrah, and it is the undisputed king of grapes in the region.  In the South, a wide array of red, white, and rose wines are produced, and Grenache is the king of grapes.

A Taste of Gigondas and Vacqueyras #Winophiles

Image courtesy of www.allfranceinfo.com

The Rhône classifies their AOCs (appellations) into four categories (in ascending order of quality – Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Côtes du Rhône (named) Villages, and Cru.  

Renown Northern include names such as Hermitage and Cote Rotie.  In the South, the big dog of crus is the Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  Both Gigondas and Vacqueyras are classified as Cru, the highest quality category.

Aside from trying a couple of new-to-me regions, what drove my decision to try Gigondas and Vacqueyras was value.  The other, more renown, crus such as Hermitage, Cote Rotie and Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be pricey.  With Gigondas and Vacqueyras you can get wines with a similar profile, and a less imposing price, but with, ostensibly better quality than Côtes du Rhône, or Côtes du Rhône Villages wine.  

About Gigondas

Gigondas is a village located in the southeastern Rhone Valley.  The appellation sits on a plateau at an altitude of 100m, and gently climbs up around the village with steep slopes up to 430m high in area around the at the Dentelles de Montmirail.  The villages of Beaumes-de-Venise and Vacqueyras are located to the south and west of Gigondas.

A unique protected natural site, with hillsides carved by the hands of men into terrain suitable for vineyards. – Chef Alain Passard

The region produces 99% red wines and 1% rosé.  Both red and rosé wines are made predominantly from Grenache Noir (up to 80%, according to the appellation laws), with varying quantities of Syrah and Mourvedre, the two varieties with which Grenache is most commonly mixed in the region.

The region was elevated from Côtes du Rhône Villages status to cru status in 1971.

The resulting style of wine made in Gigondas is often likened to that of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, just 10 miles (17km) to the southwest.

A Taste of Gigondas and Vacqueyras #Winophiles

Vineyards at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail in Gigondas. Image courtesy of http://www.gigondas-vin.com/

2013 Cécile Chassagne Gigondas – Retail $20

Domaine Cécile Chassagne represents the second generation of the Chassagne family. Her father, Jean-Claude Chassagne established the original estate in 1974 that included It included vineyards in Sablet, Gigondas and the Plan de Dieu. He sold most of the estate in 1998, but his daughter Cécile kept the 3.2 acre estate in Gigondas.

This wine is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah,  and 10% Mourvèdre from vines planted in 1974.  It was whole-cluster fermented in large oak vats. It was aged 4 months in 228-litre oak casks.
A Taste of Gigondas and Vacqueyras #Winophiles

My tasting notes follow:

Pale purple garnet color with appealing savory black and red fruit aromas, subtle spice, and floral aromas with a nuanced appealing mineral note. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with tart black cherry, black currant, blackberry, and spice flavors framed by well-integrated dusty tannins and a mineral driven, lingering finish. I enjoyed the tension in his wine.  It’s definitely a food wine, as opposed to a cocktail wine in my book. 13.5% alcohol. Very good QPR at $20. I would buy again.  It’s enjoyable now (I recommend aerating for at least 30 minutes) but will benefit from further aging.   Pair with Grilled Marinated Leg of Lamb.

About Vacqueyras

Just south of Gigondas, also at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, Vacqueyras was elevated from Côtes du Rhône Villages status to cru status in 1990.  The region produces 95% red wines, 4% white wine and 1% rosé.  Grenache is the dominant variety in Vacqueyras; every blend must contain at least half, although sometimes it accounts for as much as 90% of the mix.  The remaining percentage is made up of Syrah and Mourvedre, with an addition of 10% of any of the other Cotes du Rhone varieties.

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Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

2012 Domaine la Garrigue “La Cantarelle” Vacqueyras – Retail $20

Domaine la Garrigue is set in the heart of the Vacqueyras.  The estate was created in 1850, and has always been worked by the same family, spanning 6 generations.

The wine is a custom cuvee between Eric Solomon, Philippe Cambie and the Bernard family.  It’s a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that spent 24 months all in concrete tanks.  The fruit is from 80-100+ year-old vines.

A Taste of Gigondas and Vacqueyras #Winophiles

My tasting notes follow:

Bright crimson color with roast meat, black and red fruit, spice and subtle floral, and its namesake garrigue aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, and fresh with a supple texture and silky tannins with black cherry, red currant, licorice, and spice flavors with underlying earthiness, a bit of minerality and a very giving spicy finish. 15% alcohol.  Very good QPR at $20. I would buy again.  It’s enjoyable now but will benefit from further aging. Pair with Braised Short Ribs.


The Gigondas seemed to be a more traditional expression of the Southern Rhone Valley; from the bottle embossed with the crest of Gigondas, to it’s more rustic, savory character. It brought to mind an Italian Rosso di Montalcino I recently had.  On the other hand, the Vacqueyras was a bolder, more full-bodied wine with more generous fruit.  It’s definitely more of a crowd-pleaser in my mind.  I rated both wines Very Good to Outstanding 89-91pts.

For more about Rhône Valley food and wine be sure to check out what my fellow food and wine blogger are sharing!

Join our live Twitter Chat Saturday, October 17th at 8 am PST/11 am EST using #winophiles and share your favorite food and wine from the Rhone Region of France.

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Wines At Our Table; Week of August 16th, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week (WoW) – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out for the week ended August 16th 2015.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut – Retail $47
Very pale yellow color with tiny bubbles and a fine bead. Offers aromas of fresh biscuit dough, grapefruit, lime cream, with hints of quince and white flower. On the palate it shows soft creamy mousse with clean well delineated apple, peach, lime, lemon and grapefruit flavors underscored with an appealing minerality. Seems much improved to my palate over a few years ago – cleaner more complex Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2013 Trivento Amado Sur – Retail $15
Opaque violet color with mixed black fruit, licorice, and low-key spice and cedar wood aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with good acidity, ample fruit, and soft tannins with black currant, black cherry, plum, vanilla and a hint of spice flavors. Medium finish. Very Good; 86-88 pts

2013 Domaine des Costes Rouges Marcillac Tandem – Retail $17
Dark violet color with promising red currant and raspberry aromas with low-key spice and dried herb notes. On the palate it’s light-bodied, fresh and well structured with charming, easy-going cassis, raspberry, and spice flavors with supple tannins and an enticing minerality. Very Good; 86-88 pts

2014 Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble Rosé – Retail $17
Pretty salmon color with watermelon, red berry and a hint of earthy aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied and fresh with an especially nice mid palate weight. It shows strawberry blood orange, cherry and raspberry flavors with a nice spice note. Medium long finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2014 Dashe Cellars Grenache Les Enfants Terribles – Retail $24
Ruby color with appealing strawberry cream, sour cherry jolly rancher aromas with light spice, and mineral notes. On the palate, it’s light-bodied with vibrant acidity, a juicy texture underscored  some dusty tannins with strawberry, sour cherry, plum, spice and a bit of earthiness on the finish. Medium plus finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2009 Ridge Merlot – Retail $45
Dark ruby color with aromatic black cherry, blueberry, cassis and a kiss of vanilla, and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, balanced and elegant with black cherry, blueberry, cassis and vanilla flavors. Long finish. 14.2% alcohol.The Merlot is made from two parcels planted at 1,300 and 2,000 feet of elevation in the Jimsomare property, which is now part of the Ridge estate. 2009 was their first bottling of a varietal Merlot since 1997.Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

Wines At Our Table; Week of August 16th 2015

Wine of the Week (“WoW”)  Any week that includes some Champagne is a very good week indeed!  Not only that I tried a completely new to me grape – Fer Servadou (2013 Domaine des Costes Rouges Marcillac Tandem)

For quite a few years I was not a fan of Veuve Clicquot.  In my opinion, not only was it ubiquitous, but I thought it was overrated in relation to its quality.  I think it’s improved over the last few years though, and it’s back in my good graces (though there are still quite a few Champagne that I enjoy just as much if not more for less.  It’s definitely a quality bottle of Champagne that’s on par with many in the same price range.  The Ridge Merlot was a treat. As paraphrase a cliché goes…I don’t drink Merlot often, but when I do I drink Ridge😉

My WOW is the 2014 Dashe Cellars Grenache Les Enfants Terribles.  It’s one of my favorite summertime reds wines. It’s take a chill very well, and its lively acidity make it a wonderful partner at the table with a variety of dishes.  Highly recommended!

More about Dashe Cellars

Dashe Cellars, founded by Michael and Ann Dashe in 1996, is an urban winery located near Jack London Square in Oakland, CA.   Michael Dashe is the Winemaker, and Anne Dashe is the General Manager.  Between the two, they have 40-plus years experience in the wine business, including experience at  some big-time wineries such as Ridge Vineyards, Far Niente, Chappellet, Schramsberg Wine Cellars in California;  Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château La Dominique in France,and  Cloudy Bay in New Zealand.   The winery produces about 10,000 cases annually.

From the start we always wanted to make this Grenache almost in a Grand Cru Beaujolais style: a serious wine that offers bright, lively fruit but with a great structure and balance.  Dashe Cellars

From Dashe Cellars…In 2014, low yields and perfect ripening weather created a lovely Grenache, a bit softer and more delicate than previous vintages. Because of the way we make this wine—fermented with the native yeasts on the grapes; aged in large French oak barrels; unfined; and bottled with low SO2 levels—we felt that it deserved to be labeled with our other wines in the Les Enfants Terribles (the “Wild Children”) series made in a more Old World style.  The resulting purity of flavor, velvety texture, and lush midpalette is a break from the brash, fruit-forward style of many Californian wines.

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Marcillac – The Perfect Wine for Liver And Onions?

Welcome to this month’s French Winophiles!  We’re group a food and wine bloggers pulled together by Christy of Adventures of a Culinary Diva.  We’re taking a virtual tour of France region by region and learning about French cuisine, wine and travel.  This month we’re exploring the Sud-Ouest (South West) region of France

Sud-Ouest (South West) Region

The South West region of France is a relatively large territorial zone that lies between – and does not include – the wine regions of Bordeaux and Languedoc-Roussillon.  The region includes eighteen appellations denoted as either AOP or IGT.  It also includes the iconic Armagnac brandy-producing area.

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Image courtesy of The Wine-Pages.com

According to the Wines of Southwest France website (a wonderful resource) the region has a feel and a lifestyle all its own. Located off the beaten path from the bustle of Paris or Lyon, life in the southwest is more relaxed. For the French who live in other parts of the country, the southwest is the place to go for a relaxing weekend getaway.Here they can explore vineyards, enjoy the celebrated regional cuisine (think foie gras and duck confit), shop at local markets, fish in the Pyrenees, tour hilltop castles, admire prehistoric cave paintings or the art of Toulouse-Lautrec, or hike the Lot River valley. And for those who want sand and surf, the Atlantic coast offers 100 miles of beach, ending at the luxury resort city of Biarritz.

In My Glass

Given the region’s size and vinous diversity, I decided to focus on one specific appellation, with an eye on trying a new to me grape variety. My search lead me to the 2013 Domaine des Costes Rouges “Tandem” from the Marcillac AOP.

The Marcillac appellation, which is largely overlooked, covers 420 acres devoted almost exclusively to a single type of vine: Fer Servadou, or Mansois as it is known locally. The grape variety is found throughout the Sud-Ouest wine region, but Marcillac is its spiritual home.  No other appellation uses Fer as the key grape variety.

Fer is native to the País Vasco, the Basque area of Spain on the French border.  It’s a member of the Carmenet family, which includes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

The grape  thrives on the stony, iron-rich soils known locally  les rougiers (due to their reddish color) in the hills surrounding the town of Marcillac.

Marcillac - The Perfect Wine for Liver And Onions?

2013 Domaine des Costes Rouges “Tandem”

The producer, Domaine des Costes vineyards are 100% Mansois and organically farmed.  All fermentation and elevage is done in concrete tanks.  Their wines are bottled unfiltered.

My tasting notes:

Dark violet color with promising red currant and raspberry aromas with low-key spice and dried herb notes. On the palate it’s light-bodied, fresh and well structured with charming, easy-going cassis, raspberry, and spice flavors  with supple tannins and an enticing minerality.  Stylistically the wine falls between a Loire Cab Franc and Gamay. 12%; Retail-$17

On My Plate

The challenge with selecting a wine produced from a new to me grape is determining what kind food with make a harmonious pairing with the wine.

As I was researching pairing options I came across Seared Calves Liver and Marcillac.

Wow! It’s been a seriously long time since I’ve had liver, which of course I held in contempt for many years.

What changed?

I worked my way through college as a cook in a restaurant.  One day, in desperate need of something different to eat, I threw a piece of liver dusted with some flour into some bacon grease and sautéed some onions in the same.

My contempt for liver disappeared with the first fork full of offal yumminess that is liver and onions.

I checked out some recipes and found a Calf’s Liver With Bacon, Caramelized Onions and Sherry from Emeril Lagasse.

Marcillac - The Perfect Wine for Liver And Onions?

Calf’s Liver With Bacon, Carmelized Onions and Sherry

The recipe was definitely an upgrade over my relatively simple and quick liver preparation.

One of the key steps in recipe is to soak the liver in milk for at least 20 minutes.  I’d never done that before. But I certainly think it paid off – the dish was utterly delicious – with a  hint of sweetness I’d never before tasted when eating liver.  The sherry pan sauce was a very nice compliment to the sweetness of the caramelized onions. And hey…you can’t go wrong with bacon bits!

As for the pairing? It was wonderful!  The wine was made the liver taste better, and vice versa. This is a combination I’ll be repeating!

There’s plenty more food and wine deliciousness from Sud-Ouest.  Check out what my fellow French #winophiles have in store for you!

Join us Saturday, August 15th at 11 am ET/8 am PT for a live Twitter Chat sharing wine, food and travel stories from Sud-Ouest. Follow us on #winophiles.

Next month we explore the wine and cuisine of  the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France on Saturday, September 19th 

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogA

Champagne Chronicles – Day 3

This is the third 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

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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.  Here’s what they said about the trip…

The trip to Champagne will be an opportunity for you to learn more about the production of Champagne and its unique qualities, as well as what the region is doing to protect its name in the United States.  The week-long trip… will give you the opportunity to visit select producers – from large houses to cooperatives and small growers – and learn about the appellation as a whole…you will also experience firsthand the winemaking process, from picking and crushing grapes to exquisite Champagne pairing dinners.

Our itinerary for Day 3 included:

Champagne Louis Roederer

Louis Roederer is one of the last great independent and family run Champagne houses. The family has been managing the business since 1832.  Today it is managed by Frédéric Rouzaud, who represents the seventh generation of the Roederer lineage.

Their vineyards (all Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) cover about 70% of the company’s needs, which is rare for large Champagne houses.  They produce about 3 million bottles annually.

The Roederer portfolio includes Champagne DeutzChâteau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ramos Pinto Port in Portugal, Domaines Ott in ProvenceRoederer Estate and Scharffenberger in California.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Chef de Cave, and Assistant General Director of Roederer.  After giving us an overview of the Roederer vineyards, he took us on tour of their cellars, and lead us through a tasting of a few vin clair.  It’s obvious the man has a passion for wine.  We then adjourned to the beautiful Roederer tasting room to taste their current releases:

It just so happened I’d tasted the same wines a couple of weeks before my trip (click here for detailed notes)

After our tasting, it was time for lunch.  Much to my surprise and delight we were greeted by, and dined with the man in charge himself – Frédéric Rouzaud!

And lunch? It was a gastronomic and vinous delight!

How this for lunch? L-R; 2006 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, 2002 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut (magnum), 1993 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut, 1995 Ramos Pinto Porto Vintage

It’s a tough call, but my favorite was the 1993 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut one the wines we had with lunch.  It’s a beautifully mature, full-bodied Champagne with intense, complex, savory aromas and flavors including brioche, baked apples and peach, roast hazelnut, citrus, and a bit of caramel that harmoniously and seamlessly coalesce with energetic acidity and a smoky minerality. And it’s such fantastic food wine! 

Learned about: Roederer is the largest organic grower in Champagne with 65 of their 240 hectares farmed biodynamically.  They began converting their vineyards to biodynamic in 2000. Between 60-70% of the fruit for Cristal is biodynamic.  In fact, the current release – 2006 is the first vintage they released with primarily biodynamic fruit.  The first 100% biodynamic Cristal will be the 2011 vintage

Insider’s tip: Roederer will be launching their first Brut Nature (the driest style of sparkling wine – with less than 3g/L residual sugar) in the US this month! The 2006 Brut Nature cuvée, was developed by Louis Roederer and Philippe Starck.

Notable Quote: The secret to Cristal is Pinot Noir and Chalk” – Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon

See below for gallery of Champagne Louis Roederer visit

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Champagne René Geoffroy

“The Geoffroy family have been winemakers since the seventeenth century and the property has stayed in the family for almost 400 years, uninterrupted.  In addition to prime parcels in Cumières,  the family has holdings  in Damery, Hautvillers, and Dizy. They aim for the highest possible quality and ferment the wines in oak barrels for their Cuvée Sélectionnée [now called Cuvée Empreinte] and Brut Prestige [now called Cuvée Volupté].  The wines don’t go through malolactic fermentation, which gives them the nerve and aging potential that most Cumières Champagnes lack.  When you talk to the well-educated young Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, you understand that this is a family that cares passionately about wine.” (Source)

Geoffroy is a grower that produces its own wines.  They are the No. 1 grower in Cumières, where they farm 14 hectares of  sustainably grown grapes.  Cumières is the most sun-drenched and earliest ripening village in Champagne, and is known primarily for its pinot noir.  They produce generous, vivacious Pinot Noir led wines that can age. Their production is about 140,000 bottles a year

We were greeted by fifth generation winemaker Jean-Baptist Geoffroy, who lead us on tour of the family’s three-story gravity flow winery and cellar.

After the tour we tasted:

  • René Geoffroy  Expression Brut Premier Cru
  • 2007 René Geoffroy  Empreinte Brut Premier Cru
  • René Geoffroy  Rosé de Saignée Brut 1er Cru
  • René Geoffroy  Blanc de Rose Extra Brut
  • 2004 René Geoffroy  Millésimé

Geoffroy is doing my favorite was the 2007 Empreinte Brut Premier Cru. It’s a blend of 76 % pinot noir, 13%chardonnay, and 11% Pinot Meunier that were all fermented in large oak foudres.  It’s a well-balanced wine with apple, pear, and bread dough aromas, and apple, toasted almond, and mineral flavors and a long finish.  It’d be fantastic with seafood dishes!

Insiders tip: Look for the yet to be released “Houtrants” cuvée. It’s an interesting multi-vintage, field blend, old vine (minimum age of 50 years) wine cuvée composed of five of the permitted grapes (rather than the typical three) with lovely aromatics, and a rich, creamy, slightly autolytic tart apple and mineral character and a long finish.

See below for gallery of Champagne René Geoffroy visit

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Champagne Jacquesson

“Jacquesson is one of Champagne’s most venerable houses, not only predating Krug, but giving birth to it, when in 1843 Johann-Joseph Krug left Jacquesson to form his own house.  But despite more than 200 years of history, Jacquesson has become a revolutionary among Champagne’s established houses, under the leadership of brothers Laurent and Jean-Hervé Chiquet, who took over from their father in the 1980’s.

Since then, the house has adopted a herbicide-free, terroir-based philosophy. It also retired, after 150 years, its non-vintage blend and replaced it with a groundbreaking single-vintage-based cuvée, which changes yearly. And next came its terroir-based cuvées, an unprecedented move for a traditional house.” (Source)

They are based in the Dizy region of Champagne. They farm 28 hectares of grapes (10 are certified organic) located in the Grand Cru villages of AÿAvize and Oiry and in the Premier Cru villages of Dizy, Hautvillers and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.   They currently produce about 270,000 bottle annually with approximately 15% of the fruit sourced from growers in these villages as well as the Grand Cru village of Chouilly and the Premier Cru village Cumières.  The house makes the claim it is the oldest independent Champagne house.

We were greeted by Jean-Hervé Chiquet who lead us on a tour of the winery, cellars and guided our tasting.

It was a blowout tasting!

  • Jacquesson & Fils  Cuvée No. 733
  • Jacquesson & Fils  Cuvée No. 733 Dégorgement Tardif
  • Jacquesson & Fils  Cuvée No. 736
  • Jacquesson & Fils  Cuvée No. 737
  • Jacquesson & Fils  Cuvée No. 738
  • 2008 Jacquesson & Fils Dizy Terres Rouges Rosé
  • 2004 Jacquesson & Fils  Dizy Corne Bautray
  • 2004 Jacquesson & Fils  Brut Avize Grand Cru Champ Caïn
  • 2004 Jacquesson & Fils  Ay Vauzelle Terme
My favorite was the 2004 Ay Vauzelle Terme one of the “lieu-dit” (single-vineyard) wines.(all of which were outstanding). It’s 100% Pinot Noir sourced from 2,500 vines planted in 1980 on 0.30 hectare that grow in limestone mixed with a little clay, on chalk bedrock. Aged 8 years on lees.  It’s pale salmon color with intriguing cherry, raspberry, tangerine, roast nut, and floral aromas.  On the palate it It’s medium-bodied, and superbly balanced with a creamy mousse and great finesse. It shows cherry, strawberry and a hint of tangerine flavors and lingering, satisfying finish
After our tasting made our way to the Jacquesson dining room on the second floor of their property another fantastic meal expertly paired with more wines awaited!
Learned: “Fils” means “son’ in French, which is why you see it so often in the name of French wineries

Insiders tip: Look for the 2008 Terres Rouges Rosé.  It’s among the best rosé Champagne I’ve tasted.  It has an exotic floral, berry, pomegranate, slightly earthy character.

Notable Quote:We favor excellency over consistency” – Jean-Hervé Chiquet

See below for gallery of Champagne Jacquesson visit

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What an awesome day!  As if the continued brilliance of Louis Roederer  and the revelations of Geoffroy and Jacquesson weren’t enough. I was blown away by the superb lunch and dinner expertly paired with wonderous wines!

Stay tuned for Day 4, which featured visits to Bereche & Fils, Billecart-Salmon, and Bruno Paillard!