T.G.I.F. Bubbly; Jean-Louis Denois Limoux Brut Rosé

Over the past couple of years I’ve been blogging about sparkling wines. For a time I blogged about a different sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  I’ve gotten away from it in recent months, not because I stopped drinking sparkling wines (I still drink bubbly on pretty much a weekly basis; they’re underrated food friendly wines and, for me, can easily make an otherwise ordinary day, just a little extraordinary.  I don’t wait for a special occasion and neither should you!), but rather because after a year and a half of trying a bunch-o sparkling wines from around the world, I’ve found many I enjoy that have become repeat purchases.  So it’s been a minute since I blogged about a sparkling wine I haven’t tried before.  That brings me to this week’s sparkling wine,  Jean-Louis Denois Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, a Crémant from Southern France.

This sparkling wine hails from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, which is considered by many to be to one of the most exciting and innovative in France.  It is also widely reputed to be among the most exciting for “bang for the buck” wines in France, especially for sparkling wines from the Limoux.  I’ve found several sparkling wines (known as Crémant when it’s produced using the same method using for making Champagne, but not made in the Champagne region of France).  It’s a “go-to” region for everyday sparkling wines from France for me.

The producer of this wine, Jean-Louis Denois is a sixth generation wine producer from Champagne, that has brought his experience and expertise to the sparkling wines of Limoux. His vineyards sit at the foot of the Pyrenees, and include red, white and sparkling wines, all made from low-yielding vines, vinified with as little interference as possible.

This is my third wine from Jean-Louis Denois.  The Brut Tradition is a perennial favorite sparkling wine for under $20, and last year I bought the 2008 Jean-Louis Denois Vin de Pays d’Oc Les Garrigues, a killer blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec that at $8 had off the chart QPR (easily the best $8 wine I’ve had)!

Jean louis denois rose

My tasting notes follow:

Salmon color with a persistent stream of tiny, but dispersed bubbles and faint red fruit aromas. On the palate, it shows a creamy mousse, lively acidity, and strawberry, cherry, and mineral flavors.  Medium finish – 87pts

Rating: Recommended – Sparkling Rosé tends to be priced at a premium, and it’s rare to find one made from 100% Pinot Noir, especially at this price point.  This wine is a great value and will be a repeat purchase for me!

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one works well as an aperitif, and with food.   This would be a great wine for your Holiday dinner, veggie pizza, or Bahn Mi!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Wine purchased for review

Related posts you might enjoy:

Wine Of The Week: 2010 Tablas Creek Vermentino

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for July 14-July 20 is the 2010 Tablas Creek Vermentino.

The Winery

Tablas Creek (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and 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 vineyards. Check the full story here

The Wine

If you’re not familiar with the Vermentino grape, it’s believed to be Spanish in origin, though the best examples come from the islands of Sardinia, Corsica, and northern Italy.  It is also grown in France where it is known as Rolle, where it is used primarily as a blending grape in Côtes de Provence, and increasingly in the Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France.  It is known for its crisp acidity, citrus and mineral aromas, and refreshing finish.  It pairs well with just about any seafood, oysters on the half-shell, seafood linguine, cioppino, pesto dishes or grilled Mediterranean vegetables.  It’s a classic example of the wine of a place being a reflection of that place – in this case the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, along with Liguria in the coastal region of north-western Italy where fresh seafood abounds.

The 2010 vintage was the ninth bottling of Vermentino for TCV.  The grapes for this wine are grown on their estate vineyard.

I enjoyed this on a warm summer night – al fresco style.  It paired wonderfully with grilled oysters,  and banana-leaf grilled tilapia, accompanied by an avocado, grilled corn, tomato salsa!

My tasting notes follow:

Light straw yellow-gold color with citrus leaf, wet stone, and a hints of honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium-bodied and  is well-balanced with crisp acidity.  It’s bursting with citrus, lime peel, and mineral flavors. Medium finish.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. It’s a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc!

Details:

Alcohol: 13.1% alcohol.

Closure: Screw cap.

AVA:  > CaliforniaCentral CoastPaso Robles

Varietal(s): 100% Vermentino

Cooperage: Stainless Steel

Retail: $25

Cases produced: 1,235

 

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like….Cazanove Brut Rose Champagne

This week’s bubbly is a Rosé Champagne produced by Champagne Charles de Cazanove.  It’s a brand with which I was not familiar until I did a post on their Brut Premier Cru Champagne a couple of weeks ago.  They have a rich history.  The house was founded in 1811 by Charles Gabriel de Cazanove.  However it was his son Charles Nicolas de Cazanove that contributed most to the growth of the brand.  They are the #2 selling brand in France behind Nicolas Feuillate.  They offer a full rangeof Champagne.  This bottling is one of five in their entry-level “Tradition Père & Fil” range. Sometimes a wine make a first impression then fades as you spend more time with it.  Sometimes, the last sip is the same as the first in terms of how you feel about it.  And sometime a wine grows on you with each sip.  This was one of those wines for me.  I enjoyed it more with each sip.

Charles de Cazanove Brut Rosé

NV Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut Rosé

Where it’s from: FranceChampagne

The grape(s) Pinot Noir (75%); Pinot Meunier (15%); Chardonnay (10%)

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged about 3 years on lees

Alcohol: 12% Retail: $35 

My tasting notes follow:

Pink with an orange hue color with a steady bead of pin-prick bubbles and fruity candied cherry and subtle yeast aromas. Medium bodied with a soft mousse, good balance and cherry, mandarin orange, and a hint of baking spice  flavors. Medium finish. 75% Pinot Noir, 15% Meunier and 10% Chardonnay - 90pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This one would make a very good aperitif, especially with mixed charcuterie.  Believe it or not, I had this with Jerk-Spiced Baby Back Ribs from B Side BBQ, and it was a very good match!  Since it’s medium-bodied it will fare well with a variety of dishes.

I really enjoyed this.  It was outstanding! You could easily spend a lot more on a Rosé Champagne.  This is a very good value at $35.  I highly recommend!  If you’re looking for an impressive bottle of Rosé Champagne that won’t break the bank for a hostess/host gift, or (dare I say it) an excellent V-Day Champagne, check this one out! (Click here to find this wine)

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut Premier Cru

This week’s bubbly is a Champagne produced by Champagne Charles de Cazanove.  It’s a brand with which I was not familiar.  They have a rich history.  The house was founded in 1811 by Charles Gabriel de Cazanove.  However it was his son Charles Nicolas de Cazanove that contributed most to the growth of the brand.  They are the #2 selling brand in France behind Nicolas Feuillate.  They offer a full range of Champagne.  This bottling is one of five in their entry-level “Tradition Père & Fil” range.  This bottling is labeled “Premier Cru”, which is the second tier of Champagne classifications behind Grand Cru.  The classification system in Champagne is based on the what village the vineyards are located in, rather than the vineyard itself, or the estate as in Burgundy, and Bordeaux respectively.  You won’t find much Champagne classified as “Premier Cru” for $35, as such it represents good value price-wise.

NV Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut Premier Cru

Where it’s from: FranceChampagne

The grape(s) Chardonnay (50%), and Pinot Noir (50%)

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged about 3 years on lees

Alcohol: 12%

Retail: $35 

My tasting notes follow:

Golden yellow color with persistent bead of pin prick bubbles, and fresh bread dough, floral, and fruity aromas. On the palate, it has a soft mousse, is light-bodied with apple, fresh apricot and mineral flavors. Medium finish Pinot Noir (50%), and Chardonnay (50%) - 87pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This one would make an excellent aperitif, but would also be a good match with lighter foods like seafood, or  pasta or risotto dishes, especially those creamy sauces rather than tomato sauce.

I really enjoyed this, but at $35, it won’t be a repeat purchase for me. (Click here to find this wine)

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Nicolas Feuillatte “Blue Label” Brut Champagne

Have you ever wondered what’s the best-selling brand of Champagne in France?  Sure, all the big names in Champagne are there, but I’m thinking the average middle-class French consumer doesn’t have the coin for Moet and Mumm on a regular basis.   The answer is the maker of this week’s bubbly, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte.  Feuillatte hit my radar on the on the strength of favorable staff reviews at my favorite wine retailer K&L Wines Merchants.

Last year Feuillatte celebrated their 35th anniversary. That makes them a baby when compared to  brands such Moet & Chandon,or Veuve Clicquot, which are 200+ years old.  Not only is Feuillatte the best selling brand of Champagne in France, it is also the number three brand in world-wide sales behind Moet and Veuve Clicquot.

Surely some of their meteoric rise is due to savvy marketing, like their “One Fo(u)r Fun” mini bottles of Champagne with a wrist strap, or their iPhone App with a  virtual toast where the user can pop a bottle of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte and pour it in to a friend’s virtual flute, but make no mistake, they source high-quality fruit for their Champagne. Additionally, Feuillatte has been making quarter bottles of Champagne since 1990, and today is the market leader in the segment.

This week’s Champagne a.k.a. Brut Resèrve Particulière  is their entry level offering.  In addition to this Champagne they offer six other in the “Essentials” line, four “Gourmet” Champagnes, and the aforementioned One Fo(u)r Fun mini bottles.

NV Nicolas Feuillatte “Blue Label” Brut Champagne

Where it from: FranceChampagne

The grape(s)  40%Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay

Residual Sugar – Unknown

$25 – Retail , 12% a.b.v.

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;  Aged just under 3 years on lees

My tasting notes follow:

Pale gold color with brioche, spice, and dried fruit aromas. On the palate it is creamy, and light-medium bodied with apple, and pear flavors with a hint of honey. Medium finish

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This was very nice as an aperitif, and just as nice with food.  Pair with fish tacos, light pasta dishes, or just for fun popcorn!

This is a very good sparkler. I prefer it to the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot  and it cost $20 less!  I recommend!  89pts   (Click here to find this wine) 

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut

This week’s sparkler is a Crémant (Pronounced “Creh-MAHN) from Loire France, specifically Saumur, which is produces the most sparkling wine in France outside of Champagne.  Crémant is produced using the same techniques used in Champagne, but can’t be called Champagne because it isn’t made in the geographic region.  This one is priced like a Prosecco or Cava, but approaches an entry-level Champagne.  Very nice QPR!

Deligeroy Crémant de Loire

NV Deligeroy Cremant de Loire 

Region: FranceLoire ValleyCrémant de Loire

Variety -  Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc

Residual Sugar – Unknown

$12 – Retail , 12.5% a.b.v.

Production method: Méthode traditionnelle;  Aged an average of 4 years on lees

My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow color with a bit of bronze tinge and brioche pear, raspberry, and mineral aromas. On the palate it was light-bodied,and between dry, and off-dry with good acidity,prickly mousse, and pear, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Medium finish 12.5% ABV. A Blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This was very nice as an aperitif, and just as nice with food.  I enjoyed with an impromptu salad my wife threw together of romaine lettuce, grilled asparagus, chopped egg, and avocado, dressed with Creamy Garlic Horseradish Dip.  And later with an avocado, sea salt, and salsa.  It was an excellent pairing with the sparkler matching the creaminess, and the diversity of the food, and the food making the Crémant taste better!

This is a very good sparkler, and compares favorably with entry-level Champagne. I recommend!  87pts   (Click here to find this wine) Wine tasted 2/24/12.

Wine Words Demystified: Old World

You know the deal, the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus - Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s word is Old World

According to Karen MacNeil‘s The Wine Bible:

 Old World refers to those countries where wine first flourished, namely European ones and others ringing the Mediterranean basin.  Old world techniques, by extension refer to ways of growing grapes and making wines that rely more on tradition and less on science.

In other words, Old World refers to countries like France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Germany.  Tradition, of course, has it’s place in wine making, especially when it comes to where grapes are grown.  However scientific advances, including things like the organic movement have blurred the lines between the Old World and the New World (United States, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Chile).  Sounds a lot like Ole Skool/Nu Skool to me!

Image courtesy of Google Images

Which wines do you prefer Old World, or New World?

What’s The Difference Between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio?

A bunch of Pinot gris grapes.

A bunch of Pinot gris grapes - Image via Wikipedia

I was having scallops for lunch the other day, and was in the mood for something other than Chardonnay, or Sauvignon Blanc.  I looked at the wine list and decided on the, Bottega Vinaia  Pinot Gris Trentino.  It was a very good wine – Nice tropical, apple aromas, medium bodied with a tropical/apple/vanilla flavors.

When I got home I was looking for some information about the wine, and noted it was referred to as Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio Trentino on the wine label.  That brings me to the question my wife asked me during lunch…

“What the difference between Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio”?

The answer?  There is no difference in terms of the variety of grape.

It’s the not so unusual case of the same grape going by different names.  Pinot Gris, as it is known in France tends to be fuller-bodied style wine with tropical aromas/flavors.  Whereas in Italy, whereas the grape is known as Pinot Grigio is a lighter, crisper style wine with citrus aromas/flavors.

But outside of France, or Italy what wine makers call their wines made with this grape tend to be a stylistic decision.  It’s the same thing with labeling a wine either a Syrah, or a Shiraz when it doesn’t originate in France or Australia.  What you label the wine can set expectations for what’s in the bottle. Ironically, the wine I ordered was from Italy.  Even so, stylistically, since it was a richer wine with a tropical aroma/flavor profile the restaurant choice to refer to the wine as a Pinot Gris.  In this case, I got what I expected – a fuller-bodied wine.

Generally speaking then if you’re looking for a light-bodied wine with a citrus aroma/flavor profile – order a Pinot Grigio.  On the other hand if you looking for a medium/full-bodied wine with a tropical aroma/flavor profile order a Pinot Gris.

#LanguedocDay Virtual Tasting 2011 – A Wonderful Mourvédre, Old Vine Carignan Blend…

I like participating in virtual tastings such as Languedoc Day for a few reasons.  It gives me a chance to see what wines other wine lovers are drinking and enjoying.  I look forward to learning something about either the varietal, or the region being showcased.  And it’s also a chance to virtually meet others on Twitter, G+, or FB, who share my passion for wine.

The Languedoc (pronounced “long-dock”) is a wine region in southern France.  It is the world’s largest wine-producing region, producing a diverse selection of red, white, rosé, sweet or sparkling wines.  According to Wikipedia…”As recently as 2001, the region produced more wine than the entire United States“.  The 5 best known appellations in the Languedoc include Coteaux du LanguedocCorbières AOCFaugèresMinervois AOC, and Saint-Chinian AOCs.

It’s only relatively recently the Languedoc has been widely recognized by critics and experts as worthy of attention, awards and accolades.  Prior to the last couple of decades, it was mostly known for producing low-quality jug wines.

I’ve enjoyed a few wines from the Languedoc.  Two sparklers – the NV Domaine Jean-Louis Denois Tradition Brut from the Coteaux de Languedoc AOC, and the 2008 Antech Cuvee Eugenie from the Crémant de Limoux AOC that were both very good sparklers, at a very attractive price, that I’d buy again - and a wonderful sweet vins doux naturels fortified wine made from Grenache.  But, I’ve not had a red wine from the region, so I was looking forward to #LanguedocDay to try a red.

My wine of choice for the day?  The 2006 Les Clos Perdus “Mire la Mer” (In View of The Sea).  The wine is produced by a small winery located the village of Peyriac de Mer. The biodynamically farmed fruit is from the Corbières AOC.  According to Los Clos Perdus

 This wine comes from old bush vines naturally grown and hand-picked.  The wild yeast ferment is followed by gentle basket pressing, allowing the wine to develop with minimal intervention, giving an honest expression  of the soil and the year in which it was grown

It’s a blend of 55% Mourvédre, 35% Carignan, planted in 1905, and 10% Grenache. The name Los Clos Perdus means Lost Vineyards.

2006 Les Clos Perdus Corbières Mire La Mer - Photo courtesy of Les Clos Perdus

My tasting notes are below:

Deep nearly opaque violet color with dark fruit, and herbal aromas. On the palate, balanced, medium-bodied with fine grained well integrated tannins, good acidity, and bright, persistent black currant, dark raspberry, mineral and spice flavors. Medium finish. – 89pts

This is definitely a food wine.  Try it with your hearty fall dishes.  It’s a steal for $20.  Will buy more!

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Charles Baur Crémant d’Alsace Rosé

This week’s sparkler is from Alsace region of  France.  Alsace is located on France’s eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland.  The region definitely has Germanic influences.  It is most well-known for it still white wines including Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc.  This sparkler is 100% Pinot Noir which represents about 10% of the regions plantings.

When one thinks of French sparkling wines, of course Champagne is top of mind , but sparkling wine is made in many regions of France, including Alsace,  using the same techniques deployed in Champagne.  When it’s not specifically made in the Champagne region, it’s referred to as Crémant.

The Crémant d’Alsace AOC was established in 1976.  Crémant d’Alsace is the market leader in at-home sales for sparkling wines in France.  The vast majority of the wines are exported to Belgium and Germany.

This wine is first vinified as a dry Rosé, and then undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. According to the Baur website…“Armand Baur makes one batch a year so this is effectively a vintage sparkling wine, though it is not noted on the label, as vintage sparkling wines are required to age in the cellars for at least 3 yrs before release“. This wine was aged for 2 yrs, thus the non-vintage (“NV”) designation.

NV Charles Baur Cremant d’Alsace Rosé

NV Charles Baur Crémant d’Alsace Rosé

Region: France>Alsace>Crémant d’Alsace

Variety – 100% Pinot Noir

Dosage – Unknown; Brut Style

Production method: Méthode Champenoise;  Aged for 12 months on less

Alcohol by volume: 12%

Cost: $20

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Pretty light salmon color with small dispersed bubbles

Aromas: Brioche, and sweet red fruit of strawberries and raspberries

Body:  On the palate a somewhat creamy mousse, between light and medium bodied, dry with zippy acidity.

Taste: Strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and a hint of citrus rind, and mineral flavors

Finish: Short-medium finish

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their pairing versatility with a variety of foods.  This one would be a good aperitif, and also pair with nicely with a variety of foods.  I enjoyed it with a Filipino dish, Chicken Afritada, a tomato-based stew introduced to the Philippines by Spaniards.

This is an elegant, very nice Rosé sparkler.  It’s a very good value for under $20.  I recommend!