Thursday, October 24, 2013

Artur de Barros e Sousa LDA 1983 Verdelho Madeira - Year 30

Artur de Barros e Sousa LDA 1983 Verdelho Madeira
Madeira, Portugal

It happened. I turned 30. I suppose it was inevitable. In anticipation of this inescapable truth I bought myself a little something last May when I was on Madeira -- a vintage Verdelho from my birth year.

Artur de Barros e Sousa LDA (ABSL) is a teeny tiny producer, the smallest in fact on the island. It's currently run by brothers Artur and Edmundo Olim, fourth generation descendants of the founder Dr. Pedro José Lomelino who began the company in 1890. We visited their facility in Funchal in May and were simply charmed! None of their wines are exported -- making my tourist purchase even more special.

I opened this beauty to start breathing a few months ago. It was bottled in 2010 after 27 in a wooden "pipa" and needed some time to stretch its legs and open up. Assuming my cats don't knock over the bottle this wine should last me until I drink every last drop -- Madeira is amazing in that unlike table wine, this fortified wine simply won't spoil after opening. The plan is to have a glass every year on my birthday to see how the wine evolves over time.

Review: What a pretty wine! It's a soft, pale amber color with medium intense aromas of toasted marcona almonds, golden raisins, and honey. Verdelho Madeiras are vinified in a delicous dry style. On the palate this wine is amazingly bright and lively -- for any wine, not just a 30 year old one. Verdelho Madeiras are vinified in a delicous dry style. The resuts here are more nuts and honey, along with apricots and this amazing touch of vanilla. It is toasty and tasty! The nuttiness lingers for minutes after each sip -- the length is truly spectacular.

Food Pairing: I had my sips with a little birthday carrot cake! Yummers.

Bottom Line: So happy! I can't wait to see how this wine does next year.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 1983
  • PLACE: Madeira
  • GRAPE: Verdelho
  • AGEING: 27 years in cask
  • BOOZE: 18.0%
  • CELLAR: I'll be sipping this wine for... as long as there's some in the bottle. 

Where did I get it? ABSL in Funchal, Madeira
What's the damage? Super Premium 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

J. Fritsch Grand Cru Furstentum Gewurztraminer

J. Fritsch Grand Cru Furstentum Gewurztraminer 2008
Alsace, France
This beauty was a gift last Christmas. I've been looking forward to popping it open and I couldn't be happier with what I found inside. Intensely flavorful and just plain delicious!

Gewurtz traces its roots to the lands around the current French-German-Swiss-Italian borders. It's know for its pink tinged skins and exotic aromas. The finest examples come from the cool region Alsace, France. This Gewurtz has a "Grand Cru" designation, indicating that it is from a single recognized vineyard site, a single vintage, and made from one of four grapes: Pinot Gris, Muscat, Riesling, and -- of course -- Gewurztraminer!

Review: Yummers. This wine is rich and gorgeous! To start, it's that characteristic deep golden color with pronounced aromas of lychee and roses. On the palate I found a nicely balanced, full bodied wine with more lychee fruits, along with some honey and apricots. This wine is definitely on the off-dry to medium-sweet side of the spectrum. This sweetness is combined with a high level of alcohol (13%) and a relatively low level of acidity; the combination could lead to a cloyingly sweet, flabby wine... but it doesn't! This Gewurztraminer retains its freshness and makes for a happy glass.

Food Pairing: Asian food is the obvious choice -- some nice spice to play off of the sweetness in the wine!

Bottom Line: Just a delight! I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2008
  • PLACE: Alsace Grand Cru AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: 100% Gewurztraminer
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink now -- this 2008 vintage is heading towards the end of its drinking window 

Where did I get it? 'Twas a gift!
What's the damage? Premium -- according to the Google machine

Monday, October 21, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Côteaux d'Ancenis Rosé "Le Logis Du Gouverneur"

Côteaux d'Ancenis Rosé "Le Logis Du Gouverneur" 2011
Ancenis, Loire Valley, France

Well, fall seems to have fallen. This will likely be the last rosé of the season. I know. Sniff.

This is a rosé of Gamay -- the grape most known for Beaujolais. It hails from the obscure Côteaux d'Ancenis Appellation in the Nantais region of the Loire Valley (so obscure it barely gets a mention in The World Atlas of Wine). From what I can tell, this Appellation specializes in dry Gamay reds and rosés. After this wine I want to seek out more from this region!

Review: Oh my, a wine chalk full of berries! This rosé is a dark pink color, with aromas of fresh summer strawberries. On the palate it's bright and highly refreshing - more berries with just the tiniest touch of leathery animal notes. I was surprised by how full the body is on this wine -- much more so than your average rose. The finish is a little short, and the acidity is a little high, but overall I thought this was a tasty little wine.

Food Pairing: Big enough to stand up to pretty much anything. I paired it with a chicken sandwich. Yum.

Bottom Line: Nice body, good fruit. Not shabby at all for $8.99.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Côteaux d'Ancenis AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPE: Gamay
  • BOOZE: 12%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now

Where did I get it? Wegman's
What's the damage? Low Price

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Leo Hillinger Secco Sparkling Rosé

Leo Hillinger Secco Sparkling Rosé

October is Breast Cancer awareness month so I thought I would review a super tasty (pink!) wine that also benefits the cause!

Review: This Austrian sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir is a delight! It's a light salmon pink in color with super soft bubbles. The nose shows aromas of berries and cherries. It's dry (secco!) on the palate with nicely rounded fruit. I love how refreshing and light this wine is. I could drink it all day long. Every day.

Food Pairing: Anything. Everything. 

Bottom Line: So very very yummy. I dig it. Save some tatas! Drink this wine!

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Austria
  • GRAPE: Pinot Noir
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Saturday, October 12, 2013

H. Billiot Fils Brut Réserve Grand Cru Champagne

H. Billiot Fils Brut Réserve Grand Cru Champagne
Ambonnay, Champagne, France

I have a secret love affair with Grower Champagne. It tends to be a touch harder to find than the big house, Negociant Champagnes, where the producer purchases grapes from a number of different growers. This bubbly from H. Billot Fils is a Propriétaire-Récoltant, meaning that the grower-producer sources all of the fruit from their own property. The idea is that Grower Champagnes allow for more expression of terrior since the grapes are coming from a single location. The downside is that the "house style" of these wines may be less consistent, since they do not have the advantage of blending grapes from multiple locations. Which is better, Grower or Negociant? I don't know. But I'll keep drinking until I find out! It's yummy work, but someone has to do it.

What else makes this Champagne special? It's from the Grand Cru rated village of Ambonnay. This is one of the best villages within Montage de Reims. This region is known to produce some of the best Pinot Noir in Champagne. Not surprisingly, this blend is Pinot heavy -- 75 percent -- with the balance made up of Chardonnay.

Review: The H. Billiot Brut Réserve is a delight. It's a soft straw yellow color with a finely bubbled mousse. It has a lovely bouquet of  ripe apples, white peaches and apricots. In addition to the fruit, the wine presents some light toasty notes. The bouquet resonates on palate, with just a hint of sweetness -- a hair past dry -- which trully compliments the flavors. Moreover, this wine has a fantastic, full mouth feel -- there's no word more perfect to describe it than voluptuous.

Food Pairing: We drank it with a lightly dressed spinach salad and a cheese plate.

Bottom Line: Absolutely delicious. I adore the taste and texture. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Champagne AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? The Wine Country - Long Beach, CA
What's the damage? Super Premium

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Brew Thursday: North Coast Grand Cru

North Coast Grand Cru

Fort Bragg, California

Wow, I haven't reviewed a beer since July! So very shameful, my apologies to you all. Hopefully this amazingly delicious beer will help make amends.

This beer has so many facets its hard to know where to start. A few high points: 1) Belgian yeasts, 2) agave nectar, 3) pilsner malt, 4) Bourbon barrel ageing. The result is a soft, slightly sweet, well balanced strong ale.

Review: From start to finish I just love this beer. It's a soft golden color in the glass, with a nice aroma of nuts and vanilla. On the palate the Grand Cru is bright with a definite Bourbon note to it, along with a little bit of sweet ripe apples. The pilsner malt still shines despite all of the complexity in this beer, leaving me with a light and fresh impression.

The texture and full body of this beer does indeed remind of a Grand Cru Champagne! I would be remiss if I didn't mention the booze. This beer has a higher alcohol content than many wines -- it will truly sneak up on you if you're not watching!

Bottom Line: Lovely. Soft. Supple. Full bodied. Yummy. I dig it.

Beer Geekery:
Where did I get it?  The Wine Country - Long Beach, CA
What's the damage?  Premium - 500ml bottle

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Bianco

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Bianco 2012
Veneto, Italy

Garganega. It just rolls off the tongue, no? Little did you know that it is the 6th most popular Italian grape!

Review: Holy Moley! Did someone order up the tropics? The nose on this white blend is all about the pineapples, mangoes, grapefruits, and acacia blossoms. The wine then explodes on my tongue -- but not the way I thought it would. Instead of the intense pineapples I expected, I found loads of citrus! 

The wine has a lovely light to medium body. The acidity is a little high, giving the wine a delightful zing! Overall, the Scaia Bianco is fresh, fruity, balanced, and refreshing.  

Food Pairing: Perfect with fishes!

Bottom Line: I love the contrast in aromas and taste. Supper yummy.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Veneto, Italy
  • GRAPES: 60% Garganega, 40% Chardonnay
  • BOOZE: 12.5% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Archeo Ruggero di Tasso Nero d'Avola

Archeo Ruggero di Tasso Nero d'Avola 2011
Sicily, Italy

Given my current status as a "non-essential" and furloughed federal employee, I thought to spend even less money for this Modest Monday. I wandered about a Trader Joe's to find the most interesting bottle for under $5. My prize was this Sicilian red for $3.99!

I'm a big fan of Nero d'Avola. It's a native Italian grape and the most planted red on the island of Sicily. Typically the wine will have flavors of delicious dark fruit like blackberries and black currants, along with some spicy pepper and earth. Unfortunately, I should have saved my four bucks and left this one on the shelf.

Review: Meh. This wine is bland and watery. There's a hint of fruit and a bit of pepper, but overall this is not yummy. Instead of slightly cooked, reduced fruit and silky tannins there's simply no depth, no body, and no texture. It's very meh. The one plus for this wine is that it's not at all sweet, unlike some others in this price category.

Food Pairing: ? I'm stumped, because I don't want to drink this, let alone pair anything with it. 

Bottom Line: This might could be your second (or third) bottle of the night? When you don't want to drink anything really good?

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Sicily, Italy
  • GRAPE: Nero d'Avola
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now (or not at all)

Where did I get it? Trader Joe's - Long Beach, CA
What's the damage? Low Price