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

 

#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!

Top 10 Sparkling Wines Under $20

Over the last 30 or so weeks I’ve enjoyed sparkling wines from around the world on a weekly basis, and blogged about it in my “T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like… series.  One of the things I’ve learned, is that there are plenty of sparklers that offer great bang for the buck.  I’ve found some very good to excellent sparklers for less than $20, including, to my surprise a few Rosé sparklers, which are among the food friendliest of wines.  My top 10 list follows
  1. NV Taltarni Brut Tache -  (Australia)  Lovely pale salmon color with floral, stone fruit (peaches/apricots), and fresh-baked scone aromas. On the palate, approaching medium-bodied, with a creamy mousse with watermelon, red berry, and a bit of hazelnut flavors. Dry with a light fruitiness, good acidity, and a clean medium long finish.
  2. Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rose - (California) Delicate pink color with strawberry and bread dough aromas.  On the palate, moderately creamy mousse, good acidity, focused, fruity, yet dry, and lively, with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish.
  3. 2008 Raventos i Blanc L’Heure Blanc Brut Reserva - (Spain)  Very light straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles, and yeast, green apple aromas. On the palate, a wonderful creamy mousse uncommon at this price point, dry, and approaching medium-bodied with apple, and a hint on citrus flavors. Medium finish
  4. NV Graham Beck Brut Rose - (South Africa) Watermelon pink color with a hint of silver with aromas of yeast, and raspberries.  On the palate, a creamy mousse, fruity, yet dry, with crisp acidity and raspberries, cherries flavors, with a slight mineral overtone, and a hint of citrus on the back palate.  Short-medium finish. Great QPR!
  5. NV Gruet Blanc de Noirs - (New Mexico)  Salmon color with an abundance of dispersed tiny bubbles with brioche and apple aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with a moderately aggressive mousse, balanced with pear, sweet baking spice, vanilla, and nuanced citrus flavors. Short finish .
  6. 2008 Antech “Cuvée Eugénie” Crémant de Limoux - (France) Light straw color with brioche, Fuji apple, and floral aromas.  On the palate, crisp with zippy acidity, a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet green apple, pear, and toast flavors.  Medium finish.
  7. NV Jean Louis Denois Brut Tradition - (France)  Light straw color with bread dough, and apples aromas.  On the palate creamy, dry, and crisp, with good acidity with pear, apple, hazelnuts flavors along with a touch of minerals. Medium finish. Very good QPR.
  8. NV Segura Viudas Brut Reserva - (Spain) Light straw color with fine bead of bubbles with bread dough and lemon-lime citrus aromas.  On the palate, light bodied, with moderately creamy mousse with green apple, and tart citrus flavors. Short finish. This one is “everyday” sparkler for me.  It’s a great value at $9/bottle!
  9. Mionetto Brut Prosecco Treviso -  (Italy) Very light – the color of clarified butter, with sweet bread,wet stone and citrus aromas. On the palate, closer to off-dry than dry for me, fairly well-balanced, with sweet lemon-lime, fuji apple, and slight vanilla flavors.  It grew on me more and more with each sip. Medium finish.
  10. 2008 Korbel Natural - (California) Pale golden-yellow color with yeast ,red fruit, and apple aromas.  On the palate light bodied, crisp, between dry and off-dry.  Straight-forward with cherry, apple, minerals, and a touch of honey flavors.  Short-medium finish.
Click here to search for these wines online

In addition to the sparklers noted above, there are a handful of sparklers I heartily recommend that didn’t make the list because they retail for more than $20.  However, because they are widely distributed, they frequently go on sale. When they do – grab a bottle and see for yourself!

(Listed in order of preference)

Sweet Sticky Things…Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World Tasting

In the world of dessert wines (a.k.a. “stickies”) Ports from Portugal, and Sauternes from Bordeaux rule. When I saw that my favorite wine shop, K&L Wine Merchants, was doing a tasting called “Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World“, I was eager to see what other regions of the world have to offer. Not only was the wine geek in me curious, it’s also been my experience that lesser known wine regions often offer outstanding Quality-Price Ratio (“QPR”) wines.

The tasting was not only geographically diverse (Austria, Hungary, Canada, Greece, and lesser known regions of France – Loire, Languedoc, and Alsace), it also offered a variety of both late harvest, and fortified stickies made from both white and red grapes. There was also a variety of treats to pair with the wines including various cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, and chocolates from The Chocolate Garage.

Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World - The Lineup

My tasting notes follow:

2009 Weiss Grüner Veltliner Fahrenheit 19 Ice Wine - Austria, Burgenland

Light yellow with gold tinged color with pear, brown sugar, and faint floral aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with very good acidity, and nectarine, spice flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts).

2008 Union of Winemaking Cooperatives of Samos Muscat Samos Vin Doux, Vin de liqueur - Greece, Aegean, Samos

This is a fortified vin doux Muscat.  Yellow gold color with peach liqueur, apricot, and spice aromas. On the palate medium light bodied with honeyed citrus, spiced apricot jam flavors. Medium-long finish. (88 pts).

2008 Château Pierre-Bise Coteaux du Layon-Beaulieu Les Rouannieres - France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux du Layon-Beaulieu

Minimally  botrytised Chenin Blanc.  Light yellow gold color with muted candied apple,and almond aromas. On the palate medium bodied with tropical, apple, and pear flavors with a hint of nutty savoriness. Long finish (90 pts).

2007 Beck-Hartweg Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles - France, Alsace, Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace AOC

Sélection de Grains Nobles (“SGN”) are  botrytised wines from Alsace, France.  Light yellow color with nutty, peach, mineral aromas. On the palate medium bodied, well balanced with very good acidity and peach, spice, and slight mineral flavors. Long finish. (91 pts).

2006 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji 5 Puttonyos - Hungary, Hegyalja, Tokaji

Botrytised Furmint Blend.  Golden honey color with aromas of apricot, honey, alcohol. On the palate viscous, with apricot, honey and faint mineral notes. Long finish. (91 pts).

2001 Tokaj Hétszőlő Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos - Hungary, Hegyalja, Tokaji

Botrytised Furmint Blend.  Golden yellow color with vivid aromas of apricot and orange peel. On the palate viscous, balanced with harmonious streak of acidity, and intense apricot and orange flavors with a hint of minerality. Long finish. (94 pts).

2008 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Icewine - Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Short Hills Bench VQA

Pretty rosy dark pink color with sweet red fruit aromas. Palate follows with vibrant cherry and raspberry flavors; medium bodied with light tannins and medium-long finish (89 pts).

2007 Domaine Mas de Lavail Maury Expression - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Maury

This is a Vins doux naturels fortified wine from the south of France made from Grenache grapes ; very dark garnet almost inky color with aromas of cherry liquer, sweet tobacco,spice and floral notes. On the palate red fruit, and spice with good acidity and a touch of fine grained tannins. Medium long finish.  (89 pts).

After taking care of business tasting this group of outstanding dessert wines, it was time to enjoy a few different food pairings.  Hands down my favorite pairing was the Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and Pralus Madagascar 75% Dark Chocolate. It was simply a sublime pairing!  I also enjoyed the classic Roquefort cheese and Tokaji pairing, though I must confess I’ve never had cheese for my dessert course.

I always look forward to furthering my wine education, and this was a very good opportunity.  I tasted Tokaji for the first time, which I’ve been eager to do, and I now have a better understanding of which types of dessert wines to pair with which types of desserts,  and which might be better on a stand-alone basis for dessert.  All in all, a sweet start to the weekend!

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – 2008 Antech “Cuvée Eugénie” Crémant de Limoux

This week’s virtual trip around the world of sparklers takes me back to France, specifically the Languedoc-Roussillon region that is renowned for great quality-price ration (“QPR”) wines.  I must confess that, so far, I’ve only enjoyed Crémants (as sparkling wines produced in France, but outside of Champagne are known) from the region.

The Crémant de Limoux is an Appellation d’origine contrôlée ”AOC” for modern-styled sparkling wines from the vineyards around the town of Limoux in southern France.  Crémant de Limoux are considered more modern because Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc dominate the blend, as opposed to Mauzac, which historically dominated the Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wines from the same region.

I’ve always found specificity of the French wine AOC system, which is based on the concept of terroir, interesting.  Especially compared to the relative freedom winemakers here enjoy.  For example, according to Wikipedia…

…Crémant de Limoux contains 40-70% Chardonnay, 20-40% Chenin Blanc, 10-20% Mauzac and 0-10% Pinot Noir.[1] AOC regulations dictate that the wine be aged for a least a year on the lees prior to disgorgement.

Here in the US, we don’t dictate the grapes, or percentage of grapes that go into wines, although there are some labeling laws.

Antech "Cuvée Eugenie" Cremant de Limoux

2008 Antech “Cuvée Eugenie” Crémant de Limoux

Region: France>Languedoc-Roussillon>Crémant de Limoux

Variety - 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc, 10% Mauzac

Residual Sugar – Unknown

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Minimum of 18 months on lees.

Alcohol by volume: 12%

Cost:$14

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Pale straw color

Aromas: Brioche with Fuji apple and floral notes

Body: Medium-light bodied with zippy acidity, and a creamy mousse, and mouth feel

Taste:  Sweet green apple, pear, and honeyed toast

Finish: Medium

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 creamy fish dishes, or fondue.

This is a very good for $14, and another winner from the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  It would make a great house sparkler, especially if you prefer French wine.  I recommend. (87 pts)  To find this wine, click here



T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…Jean Louis Denois Brut “Tradition”

This week’s sparkling wine is a Crémant from Southern France, Jean Louis Denois Brut “Tradition”.  The region from which this sparkling wine hails is the Languedoc-Roussillon, 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.

Part of the reason I enjoy doing this blog is that, as a student of wine, I’m continually learning new things.  For example, while doing the background for this blog, I learned that the Languedoc is the largest wine-producing region in France, with over 700,000 acres under vine.  In fact, more wine is produced in the Languedoc than in the entire United States!  I also discovered the Languedoc is one of the few wine regions where some of the wines are labeled according to the grape variety (as is our tradition here in the States), rather than where the grapes are from.

Jean Louis Denois Brut "Tradition" - Photo courtesy of K&L Wine Merchants

N.V. Jean Louis Denois Brut “Tradition”

Region: France; Languedoc Roussillon; Languedoc; Coteaux du Languedoc

Variety – 50% Chardonnay/50% Pinot Noir

Dosage – 6gr/Ltr

$15, 12.5% abv

Production method: Méthode Traditionnelle; Aged 18 months, sur lie

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Light straw color.

Aromas: Bread dough, and apples.

Body: A moderately creamy mousse with tiny, delicate, dispersed bubbles that dissipate somewhat quickly. On the palate – creamy, dry, and crisp, with good acidity. 

Taste: Pear, apple, hazelnuts, with a touch of minerals.

Finish: Medium

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food. We enjoyed this with a variety of sushi. This one would be enjoyable both as an aperitif, and with food.  It would pair well with Mediterranean foods, especially Mediterranean seafood – I’m thinking of a seafood paella  with mussels, octopus, and white fish right now!

This wine is a very good value play. It’s unusual to fine a sparkling wine at this price point aged sur lie for 18 months.  Here, the sur lie aging adds creaminess, and nuttiness, along with a bit of complexity to the wine.  If this one is emblematic of wines from the Languedoc being among the most exciting best-value wine from France, then its reputation is well deserved.  I’ll have to keep an eye out for still wines from the Languedoc! I would buy again.  I recommend – 86pts