Tag Archives: French Wine

New Worldly Red Wines to Taste this Spring

3 RedsI was surprised with a phone call from The Wine Feed off Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, NC on Friday, February 14th. Wine had been selected for me and was available for pick-up. I was grinning into the phone, filled with the same jubilation as a child who has just found out school is cancelled tomorrow, and it’s the Friday, of a three day weekend… Get my drift?

Come to find out – it was three wines. (Kid – school cancelled – giant chocolate cake)

Lyric by Etude – Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, CA 2012
Lyric was enjoyable without food. I opened it simply to taste before going out for a meal and loved how lively the wine tasted. Young as it is, Lyric’s fruitful aroma certainly was not lost. Notes of spice and toasted nuts were a nice addition to the soft tannins. Certainly this wine could be paired well with food, though I used it as my “getting ready” aperitif.

Ripasso by Corte Majoli – Valpolicella, Verona, Italy 2010
Valpolicella is fantastic. I’ve always liked it, even if it isn’t as well know as Montelpulciano or Chianti. Valpolicella is known for strong cherry notes on the palate and this one from Corte Majoli did not let me down. I love how fruit forward Italian wines can be. This wine was fairly low in tannins, so would be a great choice for anyone who hasn’t come around to the big, bold reds. (Corvina is the variety of grape for Valpolicella)

Domaine de Fenouillet – Ventoux, Rhone, France 2012
Ventoux is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. The Ventoux appellation is in the Rhone, France. This red blend was bigger than the other two.  The dark fruits and herbal flavors stand up well to luscious, well-prepared meats with herb marinades. This 2012 could stand to stay in the bottle a few years longer, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it even at just two years old.

Hope you had a wonderful February! Keep the red wines coming, it’s not spring yet. And perhaps try some of these appellations/regions/grapes that you haven’t heard of – they will surprise you.

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A Lovely Bouquet

Bouquet by Gladys Browyn Stern

Book Review:

I recently read Gladys Stern’s wonderfully, beautiful recount of her trip through the wine-making regions of France. Though written in 1926, this book’s relevance remains true. She writes of the people she met, the wine she drank and the food she tasted at the Chateaux where so many of today’s most famous wines are still made, like Romanee Conti. (In one of my earlier blogs I was able to see the $12,500 bottle of Romanee Conti being held for a patron at the Angus Barn in Raleigh.)

Gladys’ humor and eloquent writing helps any reader to remember why it is that they love wine so much. She instills the former romance that might have withered over years of drinking.  Drinking wine inspires memories from the past, just as smells take us back to the exact moment faster than you can blink. I started drinking wine at Rieslings and oh, how drinking a good Riesling takes me back and reminds me that it’s ok to drink the wine of your younger self. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t drink white anymore and have progressed to red and will just stay with it. I challenge you to drink the white you used to love and see if the memories alone don’t keep you going back for more.

After reading Bouquet, I aspire to write as brilliantly as Gladys.  I don’t want to give away much about the book, because I know anyone interested in wine would absolutely love it. I have taken a few quotes from it as a teaser and hope that you will then look it up. I purchased my copy off Amazon.co.uk from a little bookshop in London. The price was 14 pounds or $33. My copy is old and tattered and possibly even a first edition with the stains and smells that represent it’s age and journey.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

“And give thanks to me, and drink a health, that my cellars may always be full, and my palate perceptive.”

“I had not dreamt that there existed a wine with a bouquet to provoke such longings, nor velvet to inspire such dreams, nor an aftertaste to lull longings and dreams with such content.”

“We waited impatiently – until we read the follwing text, hanging on the wall among the peirrots: — Pour bien manger, sachez attendre. une bonne cuisine est le contraire d’une auto. Plus elle va lentement, meilleur elle est. — Then we waited patiently.”

(The french text reads – For good food you must wait. A good meal is contrary to a car. The slower she goes, the better she is.)

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Tomato/Tomahto Potato/Potahto

Let’s call the whole thing off! Ahh, the EU – changing things up since 1276.  Well, the date is a joke, but they do seem to have things a little backwards.  Or, maybe it’s us.  Okay, it’s definitely us, but what can we do about it.  It’s not our fault we were discovered hundreds of years later, is it? To clue you in to what I’m talking about, this evening it’s all about how we name our wine.  So maybe you were perusing the wine aisle the other day and kept seeing grape varietals you’ve never heard of.  In the Italian section you saw Sangiovese, in the French section you saw Red and White Burgundies and Bordeaux.  Chances are, you’ve at least tried these kinds of grapes.

Did you know that some parts of Europe name their wines after the area in which they come from? You must know the whole Champagne debacle, where everything else is just sparkling wine.  Real Champagne can only be called Champagne if it was produced in Champagne, France.  However, Champagne is not the grape, they are usually mixtures of white and red grapes (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for example).  Another example, you were out at an Italian restaurant and ordered the Chianti, but in the store didn’t recognize the Sangiovese.  Chianti = Sangiovese. Sangiovese is the grape; Chianti is the area in Italy where it is made in Tuscany.

One more example, your extremely wine savvy friend orders you French White Burgundy because he or she knows you like Chardonnay.  You are sitting at the table smiling and nodding, confused and trying to hide it! Un-furrow that brow and compliment their wine choice, because you know exactly what he or she ordered! White Burgundies are made from the Chardonnay grape as are Red Burgundies made from Pinot Noir.  Things in France start to get a really complicated when getting into all the regions, Bordeaux especially! But it is France…what are you going to do? You also have Chablis and Pouilly-Fuisee that are also fun names for Chardonnay.

All of this kind of makes me want to come up with my own name for my favorite wine. Yes, I’ll take the Poura-da-vino, s’il vous plait.

Which way do you prefer? I used to like the wine bottle telling me exactly what kind of grape I was getting, but now I think it’s fun to know exactly where the wine is coming from.  This can be a great way to learn a little more as well.  Next time, look up the area in which your wine’s grapes are grown.  Find out where you favorite wines are grown; learn the reason why the grapes are grown there.  (Riesling is prominent in Germany because the climate is cooler and white grapes do not need as long of a growing season.  Tuscany is perfect for red wine because it’s warm and sunny and the grapes can ripen beautifully.)  The more knowledge you have the better you can feel around those weirdo wino friends.  Takes one to know one!

Two wines I’ve been drinking a lot of lately: 2009 Tuscan Moon, Sangiovese, California and 2009 Honey Moon, Viognier, California.  A nice line from Trader Joe’s for just $5.99 and one that sparked this blog idea. The Sangiovese is smooth with major fruit and clean flavor. The Viognier is classic in its acidity and sweetness.  Both inexpensive enough to get stocked and drinkable enough for any time of day.

Next wine tasting opportunity:
* Sip…a wine store, Cary, 530 – 830 pm, April 15, “Easing those tax paying blues wine tasting” – Free
* Total Wine, All NC Locations, 4-7 pm, April 15, “Perfect Holiday Pairings” – Free
* Sip…a wine store, Cary, 1-4 pm, April 16, “Worms & Wine” (for those with a green thumb) – Free
* The Wine Merchant, Cary, 1-4 pm, April 16, “Wines Courtesy of Wisdom Distributors Wine Tasting” – Free
* Total Wine, All NC Locations, 12-6 pm, April 16, “Perfect Holiday Pairings” – Free
* Fullstteam Brewery, Durham, 9-1130 pm, April 22, “80s Night” – Free

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