Monday, October 31, 2016

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc

Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc 2015
Gascony, France
Gascony is a region in southwest France that's more synonymous with Armagnac than with table wine. However, their wines are nothing to sneeze at! This bottle is from Domaine de Pellehaut (also a Armagnac producer). It's made from Chardonnay, plus a whole host of local grapes: Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Folle Blanche, and Sauvignon Blanc.

I'm a huge fan of the wines of the neighboring region of Jurançon. These wines are typically made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng -- grapes that are also used in this Côtes de Gascogne blend. It caught my eye, and particularly at $9.99, it was worth a try!

Review: The wine is a bright but pale lemon color, with intense aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest, and green plums. The palate is technically dry, but with just enough sugar to give it a soft, round texture. Tropical fruit is the star here: pineapple, green mango, grapefruit. The finish has a hint of bitterness, lending a nice contrast to the fruit.

I do wish there were a bit more acidity in the wine to give it some more brightness, but all in all this is a highly quaffable wine.

Food Pairing: We paired it with leftover meatloaf sandwiches. I think chicken or seafood might be a bit more complementary, but this was just fine.

Bottom Line: Easy drinking, approachable white at a solid approachable price point. Perfect Monday night bottle.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2015
  • PLACE: Côtes de Gascogne IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée)
  • GRAPES: Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Folle Blanche, Sauvignon Blanc
  • BOOZE: 11%
  • CELLAR: Drink through 2017

Where did I get it? Mr Whiskers Wine & Spirits, Nashville, TN
What's the damage? Low Priced

Friday, October 28, 2016

La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Rioja

La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2005
Rioja, Spain
I've been holding this wine for a while now, waiting for the prefect time to enjoy it. When fancy steak night rolled around this month (I made two beautiful peppercorn crusted filets) it was finally time to pull the cork!

The Viña Ardanza Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha. As is traditional in Rioja, the wine was aged in American oak, with the Tempranillo seeing wood for 36 months and the Garnacha for 30 months. La Rioja Alta prides itself on combining centuries of tradition with modern winemaking technology. I know it sounds hokey, but you can taste the love in the wine...

Review: The wine is a dark ruby color, with a brick hued rim. It has lively aromas of red cherry, black licorice, olive, and a hint of animal. The palate is dry with moderate acid and fine grained, resolved tannin. Cedar, sweet spice, and vanilla complement the fruit flavors of cherry and plum. I love the interplay between the bright red fruits and slightly herbal cedar and olive.

Food Pairing: Filets au poivre!

Bottom Line: This wine has it all - elegance, complexity, structure, and texture. Simply can't as for more than that.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2005
  • PLACE: Rioja DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada)
  • GRAPES: 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha
  • AGEING: Used american oak - Tempranillo for  36 months, Garnacha for 30 months
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink through 2018

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

DeMorgenzen Reserve Chenin Blanc

DeMorgenzen Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014
Stellenbosch, South Africa

Accounting for about 18% of acerage under vine, Chenin Blanc is South Africa's flagship white wine. The DeMorgenzen Chenin is one of the my favorites - just the right balance of fruit, oak, and bright acid.

Review: This Chenin is soft gold color, showing the influence of oak on the wine right off the bat. Aromas of ripe yellow apple and peach, plus a bit of toasty oak, jump from the glass. The palate is dry with bright fresh acid and a soft round texture. The fruit shines, with rich flavors of ripe Bosch pears and yellow apples, along with blossom, caramel, and sweet baking spices. All of the fruit and spice linger, creating a long finish.

I adore this wine. I have a second bottle of the 2014 in my cellar that I'll be holding for a few years. I look forward to seeing how the wine evolves over time. 

Pairing: The richness of this wine was perfect with Greek roast chicken and Tzatziki.

Bottom Line: This is the wine I pull out for my friends that only drink California Chardonnay. The ripe fruit and oak meet their expectations, while the balance and nuance introduce them to something new.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Stellenbosch
  • GRAPE: Chenin Blanc
  • BOOZE: 14%
  • RESIDUAL SUGAR: 3.8 g/l
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2020

Where did I get it? MacArthur Beveragea
What's the damage? Premium

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Philippe Foreau Vouvray Sec

Philippe Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec 1999
Vouvray, Touraine, France

It's fantastic to walk into a store and find old vintages. Don't get me wrong, I love buying something and then waiting 10, 15, 20 years to drink it, but the instant gratification of purchasing a bottle and pulling the cork just can't be beat!

Now this 17 year old Vouvray may be nearing the end of its drinking window, but it was still a fantastic find. In fact, the wines of the Foreau family on Domaine du Clos Naudin are known for their remarkable age-ability.

Review: This Vouvray is a deep gold color with aromas of dried pineapple and mango, brûléed lemon skin, and candle wax. It's quite dry with fresh acidity and a mellow balanced alcohol. The dried tropical fruit from the nose are present on the palate, on a backdrop of dried straw, citrus, and lanolin. The fruit lingers for a moment, with a waxy finish.

This wine is certainly still beautiful after 17 years (I enjoyed every drop!), but I wish I had been able to taste it when it was in its youth. I can only image the fresh, ripe fruit and lush texture. I guess I need to stock up on the current vintage now!

Food Pairing: Seared scallops topped with preserved lemon gremolata.

Bottom Line: A fascinating and delicious expression of aged Chenin.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 1999
  • PLACE: Vouvray AOC  (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPE: Chenin Blanc
  • BOOZE: 12.7%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2020

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

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart

Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart 1978
Mareuil-sur-Ay, Champagne, France

I can't tell you how excited I was when my father told me what he had found. Hiding in my grandfather's basement was a good condition 1978 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois! My grandfather couldn't recall where exactly it came from, but encouraged us to enjoy it none the less.

Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart is a tribute to the house's founder. It is made only in the most exceptional years from Grands Cru Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs and Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. In 2015, a case of the 1978 vintage sold for $3,981 at Sotheby's. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled to taste a wine of this quality with such age.

Review: This beauty is a deep gold color, bordering on amber, with slow moving pin-prick bubbles. The wine has an intense nose of apricot, bitter almonds, caramel, with just a hint of apple cider vinegar. The palate is dry with bright, zippy acid and a very slight mousse. Dried quince, toasted almond, and brioche come together with some earthy cheese rind for a right full flavor.

Food Pairing: This wine is simply too fine to pair with food. It's rare to find a wine of this age and quality. Simply enjoy.

Bottom Line: I loved the concentration of flavor and the nuance of age. What a spectacular bottle.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 1978
  • PLACE: Champagne AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
  • BOOZE: 12%
  • CELLAR: Drink now -- it's time. 

Where did I get it? An Amazing Family Find
What's the damage? Super Premium