Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Brew Thursday: Mikkeller Monk's Brew Raspberry

Mikkeller Monk's Brew Raspberry
Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium
The Monk's Brew is described as a Belgian ale brewed with raspberries and aged in wine barrels. It was made during a single production run released in 2012, a variation on the usual (fruit free) Monk's Brew. I'm so glad I was able to lay hands on it!

Review: The beer pours a cloudy brown, with a thin head and a hint of sediment. It has aromas of raspberry candy, balsamic vinegar and coffee. It drinks a hint sweet, with sour fruit, rich toasted walnuts, bittersweet cocoa, and fresh ground coffee. The finish is quite long and intense.

Bottom Line: I'm a sucker for tart beers, and this is no exception. I particularly enjoyed the interplay of sweet, tart, and bitter.

Beer Geekery:
  • BREWER: Mikkeller
  • STYLE: Quad
  • PLACE: Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium
  • AGING: Red Wine Barrel
  • BOOZE: 10.0%
Where did I get it?  Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage?  Premium

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Degiorgis Moscato d'Asti
Degiorgis Moscato d'Asti 2014
Piedmont, Italy

Moscato. It's so very in vogue right now. But not all Moscato is created equal. At worst, it's insipid: crazy sweet, no brightness, one note, no redeeming qualities. At best, however, it's a refreshingly light and fluffy, like a little aromatic cloud of happiness. Generally speaking, Moscato d'Asti falls into the later category of delicious goodness.

The winemaking process for Moscato D'Asti is unique. Pressed juice is kept stable at low temperatures and only fermented immediately in advance of its bottling. The fermentation process takes place in a sealed vessel, where the carbon dioxide (the other fermentation byproduct, in addition to alcohol) is captured creating the bubbles in the wine. The fermentation is then halted at 5 to 6 percent alcohol, leaving a good bit of residual sugar. This process creates as wine that is frizzante (about 1-2 atmospheres of pressure), rather than a wine that is fully sparkling (5 or more atmospheres).

Review: This wine is so pretty! A pale lemon color with a soft mousse of tiny bubbles. It has fragrant notes of honeysuckle, green grapes, and ripe nectarines. On the palate it is quite sweet, but with a fresh, bright acidity. The flavors mirror the aromas of ripe stone fruit and honey. Super tasty, super easy drinking. 

Food Pairing: The perfect aperitif, or with semi sweet or savory deserts! I wouldn't say no to some stinky cheese.

Bottom Line: If you're in the mood for something light, fizzy, and fluffy, the Degiorgis is your wine.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Asti D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
  • GRAPE: Muscat
  • BOOZE: 5.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre

Domaine Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre 2013
Verdigny, Loire Valley, France

Holy bananas. I love this wine. It was brought to tasting group a few weeks ago by a colleague, and I couldn't have been more pleased. What a treat!

This branch of the Reverdy family has been making wine in the Loire for centuries. These Sauvignon Blanc grapes are grown in the village of Verdigny on clay and Kimmeridgean limestone. Reverdy employ a natural farming style known as "Lutte Raisonnée" which minimizes the use of pesticides and herbicides.  This "Reasoned Fight" helps to maintain the biodiversity of the soil. Hopefully these sustainable methods can help the family to continue to make wine here for centuries to come.

Review: This Sancerre has pronounced aromas of elderflower, ripe apricot, and green melon. The palate is dry with zesty acidity, and a mouthfilling texture. The flavors of stone fruit, lemon, mandarin, passion fruit, stoney minerals, and wild herbs are quite concentrated and pronounced.

This wine is simply outstanding. It has a balanced body and round mouthfeel, with a beautiful complexity in the array of flavors. So very yummy.

Food Pairing: This would be perfect with a green salad with creamy goat cheese.

Bottom Line: So very delicious. Everything I could want from a Sancerre.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2013
  • PLACE: Sancerre AOC  (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPE: Sauvignon Blanc
  • BOOZE: 13.5% 
  • CELLAR: Drink through 2022

Where did I get it? Sampled at tasting group! But you can order from a wine shop near you.
What's the damage? High Price

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Marques de Riscal Reserva

Marqués de Riscal Reserva 2008
Rioja, Spain
Rioja is one of the best values currently on the market. For not too many monies you can get a highly concentrated, complex and delicious wine. The Marqués de Riscal Reserva is no exception!

Review: This Rioja is a pale garnet color with aromas of ripe red currant, cherries, lilac, and wild herbs. It's dry with a medium level of acidity and ripe, talc like tannins creating a  round soft texture. The palate combines ripe red fruits, leather, earthy flavors of dry leaves and soil, and barrel notes of sandalwood and toast.

Food Pairing: Perfect pair for a spicy turkey chili.
Bottom Line: I love this wine. It has an earthy, savory quality that truly satisfies.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2008
  • PLACE: Rioja DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada)
  • GRAPES: Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo
  • AGEING: 24 months in American oak
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink through 2020

Where did I get it? Total Wine
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Annabella Chardonnay by Michael Pozzan

Annabella Chardonnay by Michael Pozzan 2012
Napa Valley, California

Annabella is the "second label" from Michael Pozzan, named for his grandmother. I'm a big fan of this line of wines -- all are impeccably made and offer an outstanding value to the consumer.

Review: This Chardonnay is a medium gold color with distinct aromas of ripe apple and quince, a hint of tropical pineapple, and butterscotch. The palate is dry with moderate acidity and a full, mouth-coating body. It has lovely flavors of ripe orchard fruits, toast, cedar, and just a dollop of creamy butter. The finish is soft and easy.

Food Pairing: An arugula salad with salty prosciutto and ripe quince.

Bottom Line: Well integrated oak and ripe fruit. A delightful little wine. And priced to move at under $15!

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Napa Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPE: Chardonnay
  • AGEING: 6 months on the lees
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2018

Where did I get it? Harris Teeter
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Rutherglen Muscadelle

Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Rutherglen Muscadelle
Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia

Muscadelle. Not the same grape as the Loire's Muscadet. Nor is it related to the Muscat family -- although Muscadelle does show some gorgeous floral character.

This Muscadelle comes from the Rutherglen region of Victoria, Australia. The process of vinification is fascinating, where the grapes are allowed to semi-raisinate on the vine, before pressing. This grape must, with its concentrated sugars, is then partially fermented and fortified with a neutral spirit. The wine is then aged in a series of barrels, where it is fractionally blended with older wine. This creates a consistent style over many years, where the older wines impart amazing flavors into the younger wine. So what sort of a wine does this long, intricate process create? A delicious one...

Review: This wine is a rich amber color, with pronounced aromas of figs, dried apricots, and honey. On the palate it is lusciously sweet and viscous, with spirity alcohol and moderate acidity. I has wonderfully rich flavors of marmalade, caramel, and sweet spice. The sweet fruit persists for a long finish.

Food Pairing: Perfect by itself after dinner. We paired it with a showing of The Terminator.

Bottom Line: This is a beautiful, sweet, full bodied, balanced wine. And at under $15 for a 375, it's a great value. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • PLACE: Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia
  • GRAPE: Muscadelle
  • AGEING: Oak casks, 6-10 years
  • BOOZE: 18.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now, but will hold for years unopened and for several months once opened
Where did I get it? Riverside Wine and Spirits, Chattanooga, TN
What's the damage? Mid Priced, 375mL