Tag Archive | "french wine"

A pair of 2007 Hugel Whites

Wine drinkers from around the world love the whites from the Alsace region of France due to the rather unique character and depth-of-flavor they have. Many regions try and copy them but they’re never truly equaled – Alsace’s terroir and history help that region produce some of the most complex white wines you’ll find anywhere and Hugel has been producing wines there since the 1600s.

Before I get into this, I really want to stress how important – here in America – it is to have quality importers. Frederick Wildman and Sons out of New York are one of this nation’s great importers and have been bringing us all great wines for a long time. Generally speaking, if you see their label on an imported wine, you know it’s going to be good – so seek them out and make sure you support them when you can as we should all endeavor to help support those who support our desire to drink kick-ass wines.

2007 Hugel Riesling – W.E.P. Rating: 100%

Technical Data:

  • Region: Alsace
  • Grapes: 100% Riesling
  • Alcohol: 12%
  • Enclosure: DIAM Corks
  • Price: $20
Nose: Sourpatch candy, a musty old leather-bound book w/ that sour leather smell. Sort of like one that’s been stuck inside an old locker up in the attic for 20years or more.
Taste: Green apples with grapefruit for days – Stellar acidity across the mid-palate which does a nice job of cleaning your tongue with some blue-stone and flint overtones. Good finish on this wine – a total winner of a pick for shellfish or sea bass.

Nose: Sourpatch candy, a musty old leather-bound book w/ that sour leather smell. Sort of like one that’s been stuck inside an old locker up in the attic for 20years or more.

Taste: Green apples with grapefruit for days – Stellar acidity across the mid-palate which does a nice job of cleaning your tongue with some blue-stone and flint overtones. Good finish on this wine – a total winner of a pick for shellfish or sea bass.

2007 Gentil “Hugel” – W.E.P. Rating: 120%

Technical Data:

  • Region: Alsace
  • Grapes: Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sylvaner
  • Alcohol: 12.5%
  • Enclosure: DIAM Corks
  • Price: $20

Nose: Classic alsace with that nice blue-stone and flintiness. I get some gorgeous notes of pineapple, lemon peel and chalk dust.

Taste: This is where Alsace gets me – just about every time. The initial attack on teh palate is almost overwhelming (in a good way). It has a certain muskiness to it that I enjoy on an epic scale. As I sip this I’m taken away to a mental image of sitting up in a mountainous chalet, over-looking a valley of spring blossoms with a river flowing through it. Sound corney? Perhaps, but it’s how I roll and it’s what this wine is doing to me. If you’ve never experienced alsace, then you seriously need to try this wine.

Winery Website: www.hugel.com

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Pinot Noir – Burgundy vs. California

No doubt, the movie Sideways did a lot to bolster the sales of Pinot a few years ago and while I’m not at all a fan of the movie’s impact on wine sales (it shows we as a culture are too easily talked into what to drink), I do like a good pinot.

To wine fans around the world, Burgundy will always remain the undisputed Pinot king as the vineyards there and the way they’ve been made into world-class wines far superceeds even the very existence of our great nation. When I think of good American Pinot, I’m drawn to areas like the Willamette Valley in Oregon as well as California’s Central Coast region – so it was a no-brainer for me to match up a couple of different Pinot’s that arrived in the past couple of weeks.

2007-burg-cali-shootout_s

I also realize that no matter what the outcome of this review, that I’ll end-up pissing-off either the new-world or old-world folks – but frankly, I don’t care. I’m all about the wine, regardless of where it came from and you should be as well.

2007 Bouchaine Pinot Noir – Carneros – W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Technical Data:

Appellation: Carneros
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 14.1%
Maturation: 10 to 11 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels, approximately 30% new
Clones include: Dijon, Pommard and Swan Selection
Price: $30
  • Appellation: Carneros
  • Varietal: Pinot Noir
  • Alcohol: 14.1%
  • Maturation: 10 to 11 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels, approximately 30% new
  • Clones include: Dijon, Pommard and Swan Selection
  • Price: $30

Nose: Nose: Cherries, vanilla, cranberry, wild game and ink.

Taste: Nice attack of blueberries, cherries and cranberry along with dots of vanila seeds on the front palate with a smooth, full-bodied transition into the mid-palate. Good hints of dirt and clay are here in the mid-area along with a nice touch of cedar. The finish is quite long – and good – this wine is a great representation of how good some of the Pinot’s are out of California.

2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir: W.E.P. Rating: 85%
Technical Data:

  • Wine Type: Dry Red
  • Grape Type: 100% Pinot Noir.
  • Country: France
  • Region: Burgundy
  • Alcohol: 12.5%
  • Price: $25

Nose: Cedar chips, brussel sprouts, white pepper, one of those “little-tree” car freshners with the “new car scent”.
Taste: Obvious cedar notes coming thruough along with a nice hint of cranberry oceanspray. A good mid-palette transistion into some of the classic – what I refer to as – “French green” like asparagus tips and brussel sprouts. The finish is a bit thin for me and definitely lacks that smooth finish that so many “New world” wine drinkers look for. Instead, you have some acidity that’s ripping thru; making for a rather food-friendly wine.

Posted in Burgundy, California Wines, French Wines, Pinot Noir, ReviewsComments (0)

A pair of 2007 Whites from Loire Valley France

For many wine drinkers, the Loire Valley region of France holds a special place on their palette as it has a history steeped in churning out wines that are truly world-class and very unique to that region. Like many parts of the “old world”, Loire Valley wineries started off as small, family-owned business – many of which still thrive to this day.

There are a few key grapes that do very well in this region, including;

Cabernet Franc
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Gamay
Grolleau
Malbec
Melon de Bourgogne
Pineau d’Aunis
Pinot Gris
Pinot Noir
Romorantin
Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Domaine La Grange Tiphaine Clef de Sol – W.E.P. 90%

Appellation : Montlouis sur loire
Category : Blanc Sec
Vintage : 2005
Variety : Chenin
Soil : clay and silica resting on limestone
Vine age : 80 years
Harvest date : (handpicked in harvest cases)
First and second sortings the 8, 9 and 12 October 2005
Vinification and aging : Long alcoholic fermentation in barrels without yeast. Raised on lees without racking until the bottling. The goal is to get a gentle oxygenation.
Bottling : August the 30th 2006
Price: $8
Nose: Obvious oak from the strong vanilla notes and marshmallows. Layers of cantelope, honeydew and limestone with slight notes of blue stone.
Taste: An almost bubbly wine that brings cascading layers of vanilla, fresh melons, green apples and good acids. A decent, clean finish with good acidity, that can come across a bit hot – chilling the wine would mellow that out a bit.
  • Appellation : Montlouis sur loire
  • Category : Blanc Sec
  • Vintage : 2005
  • Variety : Chenin
  • Soil : clay and silica resting on limestone
  • Vine age : 80 years
  • Harvest date : (handpicked in harvest cases)
  • First and second sortings the 8, 9 and 12 October 2005
  • Vinification and aging : Long alcoholic fermentation in barrels without yeast. Raised on lees without racking until the bottling. The goal is to get a gentle oxygenation.
  • Bottling : August the 30th 2006
  • Price: $8

Nose: Obvious oak from the strong vanilla notes and marshmallows. Layers of cantelope, honeydew and limestone with slight notes of blue stone.

Taste: An almost bubbly wine that brings cascading layers of vanilla, fresh melons, green apples and good acids. A decent, clean finish with good acidity, that can come across a bit hot – chilling the wine would mellow that out a bit.

2007  La Garrelière Cendrillon W.E.P. Rating: 90%

  • 85% Sauvignon Blanc 15% Chenin
  • Vines: 25yrs old
  • Soil: Sandy and flakey
  • Alcohol: 13.9%
  • PH: 3.51
  • Total Acidity: .70
  • Residual SUgar: 3.3g
  • Pressed for 4 hours
  • 2 months slow fermentation
  • Price: $20

Nose: Banana peel, apricots, river stones, kiwi and marshmallows.

Taste: Smooth tropical fruits on the front palate – mango, bananna and apricots. A nice mineral mid-back palate transition with some nice notes of lemons and kiwi as it slides down the hatch. The finish is very acidic, with tons of sour grapefruit and sour-patch kids.

Posted in French Wines, Loire Valley, ReviewsComments (0)

2005 Bordeaux – 4-way Shootout

There’s a huge following of the 2005 vintage for Bordeaux wines – the likes of which hasn’t been seen in quite a long time. There are literally opportunists out there who are snatching up the 2005 vintage for the sole purpose of banking on the fact the value of wines from this year will rise due to long-going, strong demand.

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I decided to pick up a few of them recently – all priced under the $30 mark to see what sort of quality we’re talking about and to personally find out what some of the hype is all about. 

2005 Chateau de Seguin: W.E.P. Rating: 0%

Stats: 

  • Wine Making: Stainless steel vats with temperature monitoring
  • Ageing: 12 months in new oak casks
  • Appellation: Bordeaux Supérieur
  • Yield: 55 hl/ha
  • Soil, Surface: Clay, limestone, silicious
  • Grape Varieties: 60%Cabernet Sauvignon, 35%Merlot and 5%Cabernet Franc
  • Production: 12.500 cases

Nose: Blackberries, black currant, vanilla and ground coffee beans. Get hints of celary and good earthiness. 

Taste: Unfortunately, for this wine, the taste doesn’t match the smell and it quite simply sucks. Very young wine with tannins that’ll make you pucker up – there’s a lot of heat going on in this wine – the bottle says 13.5% but I’m suspicious. This wine not doing my palate any favors at all and in fact I feel somewhat personally violated. I’m not even sure I’d cook with this crap.

 

2005 Chateau Lagarosse: W.E.P. Rating: 100%

Stats:

  • Crafted by legendary winemaker Michel Rolland
  • 80 % Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc
  • 2510 case production
  • Average Vine Age: 30 years
  • Limestone-clay at highest elevation descending to clay-gravel
  • Meticulous green harvesting and leaf removal produced grapes of exquisite intensity and complexity
  • The individual lots were kept separate throughout fermentation, which began in thermo-regulated tanks and finished in a mix of 1/3 new and 2/3 oneyear- old barrels.

Smell: Dark cherries stuffed into plums, rolled in chocolate layers with tobacco. Dirty, earthy, soily. Nice bell pepper with a touch of forest floor action.

Taste: Obvious cherries wraped in bell pepper coated with chocolate, nice touch of vegetal action going on across the mid palate with a smooth chocolatey finish that lingers quite nicely. One of the smoothest reds I’ve had under 20bux and I love the velvety mouth feel.
 

2005 Chateau Lagarosse, Les Comtes: W.E.P. Rating: 90%

  • Crafted by legendary winemaker Michel Rolland
  • 92 % Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1,488 case production
  • Average Vine Age: 30 years
  • Limestone-clay at highest elevation descending to clay-gravel
  • Composed of the vineyard’s finest lots, “Les Comtes” was cold soaked for 21 to 28 days and pumped over frequently in order to maximize color, complexity and character.
  • Racked to the most exclusive cooperage for up to 18 months of aging.

Nose: Some good “funk” on the nose which includes some good vegetal action (bell pepper, asparagus) along with insanely good blackberry, dark cherry and coca cola. 

Taste: Sharp tannin attack on the pallet which brings waves of fruit, vanilla, garden-patch and finishes pretty good. I’m not sure I liked it as much as the standard Chateau Lagarosse, but it’s still a solid effort. My main concern with this wine is that it’s priced against other wines which I think bring a better value to to table.


2005 Saint Emilion Grand Cru: W.E.P. Rating: 95%

Stats:

  • 91% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2,166 case production
  • Average vine age: 30 years
  • Seven days of cold maceration with regular pump overs and light, twice-daily punch downs before fermentation
  • The wine was aged for 24 months in exclusively new oak barrels; a selection from eight of France’s finest coopers

Smell: Very spicey dark cherries coming across on the nose – I’m also picking up some casises, cinnamon, rose petal, tar and vanilla.

Taste: Blackberry with black cherry, vanilla and leather, add a hint of tobacco. Very nice tannins with a solid, smooth mouthfeel across the back of the palate – lingers very nicely with a very dry finish.

Posted in Bordeaux, French Wines, ReviewsComments (1)

KS: Champagne – My New Years eve surprise

The most surprising event of New Year’s Eve to me, was the bottle of Kirkland Signature Champagne we cracked open – for a price of only $26 dollars, it’s a no-brainer. 

Excellent floral components, good amount of bubbles and a nice, long finish make this one of the better bottles I’ve had recently and the first bottle the wife and I finished together in one-night. 

If you’re looking for a great value in actual juice from France, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better value out there.

It’s a blend of mostly Chardonnay, coupled with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – no matter how you stack it, this Champagne rocks it out of the park with layers of fresh fruits – hints of green apples, nice floral compontents and other goodness is in a glass of it. 

Kudos to Costco for picking a brilliant producer to make this wine for them.

W.E.P. Score: 100%

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Rose’ Round-up

We’re well into the throws of the 2008 summer and there are plenty of great reasons to keep reaching out for a glass of wine over beer; one of them is Rose’ (or Rosado). Depending on what part of the world these blush wines come from, they’ll be called either Rosado or Rose’ – both names imply the same thing – a blush-wine which screams summertime, picnics, patio parties and bbq.

 


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I got a hold of four bottles in this round-up, all of which are under the $15 mark (at the store) and should be somewhat accessable for most folks out there who are interested. This was a very fun review for me to do as it’s not too difficult to get talked into drinking crisp, dry wines on sunny days.

2007 Columbia Crest 2-Vine Vineyard 10 Rose': Price $8 W.E.P. Scale Rating: 90%

Columbia Crest looks to tap into the Dry Rose market by offering a very-well priced product that’s solid and is a very decent wine in its own right.

Technical notes:
- Grape Variety: Syrah
– Select Syrah fruit was de-stemmed and crushed into refrigerated tanks for a 24-hour cold soak to extract the desired color.
– The wine then underwent a long, cool fermentation.
– To enhance the fresh fruit aromatics, a small amount of stainless steel fermented Viognier was incorporated into the final blend.
– Total acidity: 0.74 g/100ml
– pH: 3.33
– Alcohol: 12.5%

Nose: Strawberries in dirt with a touch of cherry liquor and sweaty gym shirt. Star-burst candy.

Taste: Fresh strawberries with faint touch of lemondrop with obvious cherry components on the back end with hints of white-pepper. The finish seems to give up just before reaching the back of the palate – a bummer because the fruit-forwardness on this wine is pretty good.

2006 Mouton Cadet Rose’- Price: $10 W.E.P. Scale Rating: 90%

This wine comes from a huge, french wine producer and is made by the infamous Baron Philippe De Rothschild. It has extremely wide availability here in the USA and is priced in such a way that it sells very well.

Technical Notes:
– Grape Varieties:Merlot (65%), Cabernet Franc (20%) and Cab Sauv (15%)
– Vinification: The grapes are vatted and macerated on the skins for 12-24 hours. Alcohol fermentation at controlled temperatures is followed by partial malolactic fermentation.
– Appelation: Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur and premieres of Cotes De Bordeaux.

Nose: Some cherry kool-aid action on the nose – raspberries as well as hints of orange peel. A slight hint of medicine cabinet on the very back-end. A slight hint of medicine cabinet on the very back-end.

Taste: Nice, dry wine with floods of strawberries – some hints of cherry and grass-hay coming thru as well. Good, off-dry finish clealnly, however, not quite as long as i’d like for.

2007 Ventana Rosado: Price: $15 W.E.P. Scale Rating: 120%

Ventana Vineyards is located in the Monterey California area, has its own estate fruit and if this Rosado is any indication of its overall quality, then I’m very excited to keep a solid eye on these guys.

Technical Data:
– Appellation Arroyo Seco AVA, Monterey, California USA
– Grape Variety: 90% Grenache, 10% Syrah
– Vineyard: 100% Estate Ventana Vineyard
– Barrel Selection: Neutral French Oak
– Total Acidity .65 g/ 100ml
– pH 3.32
– Alcohol 13.6%

Nose: Dried cherries, plums and apricot. Some nice granny footlocker action as well on the nose. Hints of raw venison as well. Some gravel dust.

Taste: Explosive cherries on the pallet, hints of caramel, watermelon and peach skin. A huge finish that lingers cherries for days. This wine absolutely rips and – to me – defines what a good Rose should taste like. I’d hit this up faster than Mike Tyson would host an ear-biting contest.

Los Rocas 2006 Rosado – Price: $9 W.E.P. Scale Rating: 20%

Straight out of Spain comes this affordable Rosado wine which has a trendy-label and has great color to it.

Technical Notes:
– Varietal: 100% Garnacha (Grenache)
– Vinification: Fermented in tank, bleed.
– Elevage: Aged in stainless steel for 5 months before bottling.
– Price: $9-$13

Nose:
Strawberries and watermelon with white pepper – cantelope rine.

Taste: White pepper-laced watermelon with a hint of salt… Add in a floral strawberry component on the end and you have this wine – a very bone-dry finish; however, its extremely disjointed and a bit too “hot”.

Overall Summary and my picks:

My picks – in order would be the Ventana, the Mouton Cadet and Columbia Crest would tie – at this time, I’m going to pass on the Los Rocas. It was amazing to me how vastly superior Ventana’s 2007 Dry Rosado was to the competition. It was the only wine in the round-up which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up to attention just from its aroma – it’s too bad they don’t make a woman’s perfume from it.

As with any review on wine, you still owe it to yourself to try all of these wines as your palate is sure to differ from what I may like or dislike – always embrace your own palate.

Foods to go with these wines:
Cold Fried Chicken
Potato Salad
Pizza
BBQ
Any picnic foods

Posted in California Wines, French Wines, Reviews, Rosé, Rosé, Rosé, Washington WinesComments (0)

2005 Chateau Lagarosse

As a part of my ongoing effort to get folks here in the northwest – and everywhere – to expand their pallets, you’ll see me review wines like this one.

It’s a 2005 Chateau Lagarosse (shah toh lah growss) from the Bordeaux region in France. In case you’ve been living under a rock or are new to wine, this region – by many – is considered the “holy grail” of wine. It’s influence in our wine, the grapes and in the terminology we use is so pervasive that it’s difficult for many folks to think about what our wine industry in the U.S.A. would be like if not for this special region.

 

Its climate is nearly as good as Washington States – the only thing they don’t get are the extreme hot temps our little corner of the world gets on the eastern side.

bordeaux.jpg

What it doesn’t have in tempuratures, it makes up for in spades with its diverse soil-types, varying altititudes and age of the vines. This region has been making wine for far longer than we’ve been a country.

In fact, Chateau Lagarosse has been producing wines since the Roman period – its vineyard is located on a clay and limestone soil-type and this really does lend itself to the good, earthy components that are screaming out of this wine.

Stats:

  • Crafted by legendary winemaker Michel Rolland
  • 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2,510 case production
  • Average Vine Age: 30 years
  • Limestone-clay at highest elevation descending to clay-gravel
  • Meticulous green harvesting and leaf removal produced grapes of exquisite intensity and complexity
  • The individual lots were kept separate throughout fermentation, which began in thermo-regulated tanks and finished in a mix of 1/3 new and 2/3 oneyear-old barrels
  • Alcohol – 14%

Smell: Dark cherries stuffed into plums, rolled in chocolate layers with tobacco – Dirty, earthy, soily…Nice bell pepper.. A touch of forest floor.

Taste: Obvious cherries wrapped in bell pepper coated with chocolate, nice touch of vegetal action going on across the mid palate with a smooth chocolaty finish that lingers quite nicely. One of the smoothest reds I’ve had under 20bux… velvety mouth feel..

Summary:
Easily one of the better bottles of wine I’ve had in its pricepoint – I actually paid too much ($19) because I bought it at my local Wine Styles – other stores will most certainly sell it for cheaper – around the $15-$16 mark.

If you’ve been living on new-world fruit bombs and want to get a good taste of the “old country” and see why Bordeaux wines can be so elegant, then I highly encourage you to seek this wine out. It’s an excellent QPR (Quality-price-ratio) – I need to get my hands on a case of it to see how it progresses over the next 10-15 years.

It’s an exciting wine that drinks very good now with excellent cellaring potential.

Posted in Bordeaux, French Wines, ReviewsComments (0)