Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nicolas Joly Savennières Roche aux Moines Clos de la Bergerie

Nicolas Joly Savennières Roche aux Moines Clos de la Bergerie 2005
Anjou, Loire Valley, France

Words cannot express the joy in my heart when I walked into Astor Wines and Spirits in New York and saw their huge selection of Savennières! This area within the Anjou region, on the north bank of the Loire river, makes some of my favorite wines. Savennières is usually a dry wine with intense concentration and outstanding longevity. Not much wine is made in this region, so it can be difficult to get my hands on a wide variety, even in DC. This one comes from Nicolas Joly's biodynamic holdings in the Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines Appellation within Savennières.

Review: The Clos de la Bergerie is a pretty deep gold color, with savory aromas of dried thyme, mushroom, peach pit, honeycomb, and a bit of orange marmalade. The wine is dry with bright acid and elevated (but integrated) alcohol, and a plush round texture. The palate shows flavors of honey, tea leaves, mushroom, straw, dried thyme, torched orange rind... the list goes on. All together, the wine left me with a pleasantly bitter finish. 

The Clos de la Bergerie is getting up there in age, but I adore the savory notes and amazing complexity of this wine. I don't imagine it the drinking window will be open for many more years, but I'm thrilled I was able to enjoy it.

Food Pairing: Perfect with a cheese plate. The bright acid and slightly earthy, savory character would complement a soft ripened cow or goat's milk cheese. 

Bottom Line: This wine may not be for everyone given the near austere acidity, alcohol, and earthiness. But I was blown away: fantastic concentration, complexity, and balance.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2005
  • PLACE: Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPE: Chenin Blanc
  • BOOZE: 14.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2017

Where did I get it? Astor Wines and Spirits
What's the damage? Premium

Saturday, January 23, 2016

King Family Vineyards Crozé

King Family Vineyards Crozé 2014
Crozet, Virginia
So my neighborhood is getting a bit of snow this weekend... To combat the snow, I reached into my cellar for a little taste of sunshine!

Hailing from one of my favorite Virginia wineries, this rose is made by King Family Vineyards in Crozet, Virginia. Get it? Crozé rosé? This pretty link lady is made in the "saignée" method, where juice from the crushed grapes (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in this case) is gently bled off.

Review: This rosé is a pale salmon color with soft aromas of red cherry and tart cranberry. The palate is a hint off dry with moderate acidity and bright flavor of blood orange, cranberry, and dried cherry. The finish is short and easy.

Food Pairing: A fresh arugula salad with strawberry and goat cheese!

Bottom Line: Fresh and soft. Perfect little reminder of summer during an epic snow storm.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Monticello AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPES: 76% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • BOOZE: 12.0%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2016

Where did I get it? King Family Vineyards Tasting Room in Crozet, VA
What's the damage? Mid Priced 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Spatlese

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Spatlese 2012
Nierstein, Germany

Riesling is one of my favorite grapes in all the land -- so very versatile and bright and zippy. This Riesling comes from the Rheinhessen region of Germany and is categorized as a Spatlese. This Prädikat (quality wine category) means that the grapes are harvested later and meet specific sugar ripeness requirements. Spatlese may be fermented dry, or with some residual sugar. This example is on the sweeter side.

I opened this bottle back in November for Thanksgiving (and, oy, just now had time to write up my review!) and my family was absolutely thrilled by it! The disappointment in the house when we finished the bottle as palpable. So, what did they like about it?

Review: This Riesling is a gorgeous pale straw color, with pronounced fruit aromas of lemon meringue and peaches, along with earthy notes of petrol, slate, and steel. The palate is medium sweet, with bright, high acidity, and round texture, redolent of ripe stone fruits, Meyer lemon, and steely minerals.

I adore this wine. The beautiful balance of sugar and acid creates a round, full texture. The intense fruit and mineral notes linger for a long finish.

Food Pairing: We drank this with an assortment of cheeses and charcuterie! The acid in the wine cut through the richness of the cheese, and the fruit and sugar were a great counterpoint to the spicy soppressata.

Bottom Line: Excellent concentration, intensity, and length; beautiful balance. And at just over $20 a sure crowd pleaser.

Wine Geekery:

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? High Priced (but only barely)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir

Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir 2011
Marlborough, New Zealand

New Zealand Pinot Noir -- yum! I adore the purity of fruit often found in these Pinots. This wine is a bit on the older side (2011), so some of that fruit has transitioned to a delicious savory note. 

Review: This Pinot has a pale ruby color, with a lighter rim edging toward tawny. The nose is full of dried cherries and cranberries, mushrooms, and dried leaves. The palate is dry with a moderate level of acidity and soft, easy tannins. I love complexity of dried cherries, plums, and cranberries along with dried leaves, soil, black pepper spice and a hint of toasty oak.

Food Pairing: Roast turkey with thyme, mushroom couscous and cranberry apple butter. 

Bottom Line:  A lovely wine. It had everything I was looking for: soft texture, moderate acid, pure (dried!) fruit, and an interesting savory quality.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: North Canterbury
  • GRAPE: Pinot Noir
  • AGEING: 10 months in French oak (25% new)
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2016

Where did I get it?  Total Wine

What's the damage?   High Priced

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli Dry Unfiltered Amber Wine

Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli Dry Unfiltered Amber Wine 2011

Kakheti, Republic of Georgia

I recently waxed poetic about the rich history of wine-making in the Republic of Georgia. When I got back from my trip I was tickled to learn that I could find wines from Pheasant's Tears in New York and DC! I picked up this gem in my neighborhood wine shop.

Like the Alaverdi Rkatsiteli, this is a skin fermented white wine made in traditional Qvevri.

Review: The wine is a medium amber color with pronounced aromas of dried orange rind, honey and earthy dried leaves and mushrooms. The Rkatsiteli is fully dry with zesty acidity and fine grained, slightly grippy tannin creating a lush round body. The flavors are full on savory (forest floor, mushroom, dried thyme, washed rind cheese), set upon a background of delicate honey and orange blossom. The finish is moderate in length.

Food Pairing: A perfect pair with rich, creamy Khachapuri. This traditional Georgian cheesey bread will be balanced by the round character and bright acid in the Rkatsiteli.

Bottom Line: I'm always intrigued by amber (orange) wines and this is no exception. Bright, savory, interesting texture. A guaranteed conversation piece.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Kakheti, Georiga
  • GRAPE: Rkatsiteli
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now through 2018

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