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Monday, February 27, 2012

Just Some Wine Research...

I’ve had some interesting professors teaching classes, but one stands out for a number of reasons - he’s a professor of law where I went to law school, and I took two of his classes.  Aside from the fact that he’s a wine collector (which I’ve never spoken to him about actually), he’s an amazing professor due to his dedication to his students and to the field of law.  On my first day of class with him, he taught us to research nearly every word we came across in the Uniform Commercial Code.  At first it felt like a nuisance and I almost wondered whether it was time well spent, but after we studied some case law with him, he proceeded to tell us that he actually called the attorneys for both sides of each case.  In fact, he does that with every case he assigns his students to study.  And he extracts every bit of information about everything he teaches.  When I realized his level of dedication, suddenly it felt like the very least I should be doing was researching every word of every case or law I read for his class.
Fast forward a few years to now.
Tonight I begin Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Wine Course.  Our first lesson will be on the white wines of France.  Yes, that’s kind of a broad topic, and to prepare, I’ve done some research on some whites I think we might be discussing - grape types, regions, subregions, producers, production methods, classifications, and as I go through his book, and Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible, and Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, and online sources, plus my own notes from over the years, one wine term leads me to another, and yesterday I spent most of my day researching some very small subregions in France.  And I couldn’t help but think of that very unique professor who taught me the value of understanding every last word of what I’m reading.
Luckily, wine research is a lot more fun than reading the Uniform Commercial Code.  Learning about my favorite wines, producers, grapes, regions - it’s so much fun for me that I began my wine research while I was in law school, and sometimes I’d sneak away from my casebooks and UCC and tax code and read about something far more fascinating - and I’d begin asking myself, What’s a “dead arm”?  What makes a Montsant smell like slate?  Why do crisp whites pair so well with shellfish?  Several years later, these questions have evolved to, What’s the difference between Corbu and Manseng?  What makes a Jura wine so funky?  How long should I leave a 2007 Napa Cabernet in the wine rack to age?  And the more answers I seek, the more questions I ask - and it’s exciting, and it makes it so much easier to understand each wine.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Networking with Long Island Wedding Professionals and Pairing Wines with Marneycakes

This week, Chef Marney White of Marneycakes, Inc. and I worked together again on another networking gathering for wedding professionals and vendors.  Aside from how productive these gatherings are, they’re fun as well.  For more information on the vendors in attendance, check out Marney’s blog post
Aside from presenting a few wines at the events while vendors discuss goals and network, I have the pleasure of pairing a few dessert wines to some of Marney’s delicious cakes.
This time with our cheeses (brie and emmentaler), I chose the 2009 Pierre Sparr Alsace Riesling, 2010 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose, and 2009 Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir.  My goal for the evening was to show good quality, dependable wines perfect for transitioning into spring, for under $20, and all of these wines were well received.

The lineup - Pierre Sparr Riesling, E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose, Louis Jadot Pinot Noir, Duck Walk Aphrodite Gewurztraminer, and Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui

At the last networking event, the Riesling I chose was sweet - the Dr. Hans Von Muller Auslese from Mosel, as I had paired it with cakes.  This time, I wanted to show a dryer Riesling, Alsace style - light in color with characteristics of lime, gentle spice, and blossom, dryer, bright acidity, and higher alcohol content, and this is the wine I chose to open with.  Pierre Sparr has long been one of my favorite Alsatian producers and as usual, the wine did not disappoint.  Easy to find in wine shops and relatively inexpensive, my wine racks at home aren’t complete without Riesling and Gewurztraminer from Pierre Sparr.
Next was the dry Rose.  It’s one of my regular goals to show a difference between dry Rose and white Zinfandel (I cringe just writing it) - perhaps some wine drinkers have gotten their start by drinking white Zinfandel, but it pains me, how often I have to tell people that Zinfandel is actually red, and that if they want a pink wine, by all means, go for a dry Rose.  I tried so many dry Rose last year and the easiest one to locate in wine shops is from the always dependable E. Guigal, from Cotes du Rhone - a fairly inexpensive and very food friendly blend of 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 5% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre, bright pink with characteristics of red fruit, strawberry, and a bit of earth.  Now, how could anyone choose white Zinfandel over such a fun dry Rose?
The last wine before the cake and wine pairing was the Louis Jadot Pinot Noir.  I’m well aware that lots of people have been enjoying Pinot Noir these past several years - in fact, when we were discussing wine’s increasing popularity in the United States, Marney pointed out that we owe that, at least in part, to Sideways - and it’s no secret that Pinot Noir saw an increase in popularity after Sideways.  But it was important to me to explain some of the differences between American/New World style Pinot Noir, and French Burgundian Pinot Noir - how the wine I’d be pouring at our gathering would show characteristics of cherry, herb, earthiness, and have bright acidity, and would feel different from American Pinot Noir, and in all likelihood have lower alcohol content.  This Pinot Noir was a perfect match with the brie and emmentaler.  Louis Jadot is currently my go-to Pinot Noir when pouring for gatherings.
Then it was time for Marney to serve samples of her cakes - and the two cakes she chose were her yellow buttermilk cake with peach-Prosecco filling and almond icing, and the Mexican Hot Chocolate cake.  For the yellow cake, I had chosen the 2010 Duck Walk Aphrodite Late Harvest Gewurztraminer (ice wine style), as I usually like to choose at least one wine from our local Long Island wineries.  The pairing was perfect, as the wine is sweet and golden, and shows characteristics of lychee (indicative of Gewurztraminer), and ripe orchard fruit including peach and apricot, mirroring the peach flavor in the filling of the cake.  With the Mexican Hot Chocolate cake, I had selected the Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui from Piemonte, a sparkling sweet red perfect for pairing with chocolate desserts.  Again, I was very pleased with this pairing.  It’s such a fun wine and perfect for ending an evening, especially with chocolate.  I love showing the versatility of Italian wine, as so many people associate Italian wine with Chianti and Pinot Grigio only.

Preparing to pair wine with Marneycakes

I look forward to more of our networking events and doing business with such talented, dependable vendors, and of course I look forward to pairing more wines with Marney’s amazing cakes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tre Bicchieri NYC 2012

For some time now, I’ve been spending a lot more time getting better acquainted with French wines, often tasting and researching less common grape types and regions in France, but recently I’ve been giving more consideration to Italian wines (again, including some less common grapes and regions).  One thing (among many) I’ve learned is that, for me, there’s a very different “feeling” I get when experiencing wines from France versus from Italy.  French wines, especially the likes of Petrus and Cheval Blanc (see my recent post on a blind Bordeaux tasting), give off a vibe to me of royalty among wine, and I respond with a “your majesty” regard for them.  Experiencing good French wine, in my mind, is like walking through a museum of priceless works of art, and I’m in awe of what I perceive on the nose and on the palate and how I feel afterward, thinking of the characteristics and emotions that stand out in my memory after the experience.  Respect and admiration are among them.
I feel a very different connection with good Italian wine.  Perhaps it’s partly my own Italian heritage, perhaps it’s partly how well they pair with my Italian cooking and my family’s Italian cooking, but there’s something else that for a while seemed unidentifiable to me, until very recently.  It’s passion that Italian wines seem to give off.  There’s something seemingly unpretentious even about the most exquisite of Italian wines, and to quote Rhett Butler, “Dare I name it?  Can it be love?”  Yes, of course I feel respect and admiration for good Italian wines, but it’s a different emotion I feel when experiencing them.  I attended Tre Bicchieri NYC last week and after tasting some of the truly special Italian wines and being astounded by the emotional rush I felt, I can say with confidence that it’s a very different vibe I get from Italian wines than I get from French wines.

Tre Bicchieri NYC 2012

As soon as I got into the event, I looked at the chart of tables, and wondered where to go first.  I had received lots of suggestions of which wines to taste first, and usually I head toward lighter whites before anything else, but when I saw Sassicaia’s table, I made my decision very quickly.  It was the 2008, and while I knew it would be young, I just wanted that to be the first wine on my palate at the event.  As expected, it was youthful, but the dark characteristics were irresistible, so much luscious fruit, bold yet smooth spices, dark flowers, oak, and a hint of “outdoors” with a big, lovely texture that will continue to mature into something even more wonderful.  The wine is beautiful and I felt the emotional rush immediately.
The other wine to give me a real emotional rush was the 2008 Tignanello, also youthful but wonderful with elegant characteristics of plenty of dark fruit and spice and oak, and a big texture and feel.  There is so much passion to be felt in these wines, and when comparing the experience of the likes of Sassicaia and Tignanello with the experience of Petrus and Cheval Blanc, there really is no comparison.  They just give off such different vibes - the big French wines give off a regal feel, and those special Italian wines give off so much passion.

Tre Bicchieri NYC 2012

Aside from Sassicaia and Tignanello, there were countless other wines that left quite an impression.  I focused mainly on tasting as many Brunello di Montalcino and Amarone della Valpolicella as possible.  My favorite Amarone were the 2007 Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli (very big, luscious, and dark characteristics); 2007 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva (more mature in aromas, flavor, and particularly texture and feel than expected, lots of dark fruit characteristics, spice, raisin, and nut); 2004 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (beginning to show maturity and lots of richness and elegance); and especially the 2007 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (wonderful texture, big presence, rich dark fruit and a bit of raisin and spice).  My favorite Brunello were the 2004 Tenuta Vitanza Brunello di Montalcino Tradizione (showing maturity and elegance with characteristics of ripe fruit and lots of oak and spice); and 2006 Biondi Santi Tenuta Il Greppo Brunello di Montalcino (ripe and smooth, very sophisticated).
A few other reds that really stood out to me were the 2007 Colpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino (Umbria), which is still a bit young but amazingly good, tannic and very “red” with characteristics of red fruit and baking spices; the 2007 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici (Campania), with lots of fruit with a hint of funk, nice acidity, and a very clean feel; and the 2009 Palari Rosso del Soprano (Sicilia) with plenty of red fruit, spice, and earth, and quite elegant.
Several whites also left an impression - 2009 Villa Sparina Gavi del Comune di Gavi Monterotondo (Piemonte) which bears resemblance to a good quality Chardonnay with citrus and orchard characteristics, some baked aromas and flavors, some smooth spice, and a slightly creamy texture yet leaves the palate feeling very clean; 2010 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo (Campania) which is unpretentious, clean, and bright with characteristics of citrus, blossoms, and perhaps a bit of melon; 2010 Graci Etna Bianco (Sicilia), lovely and fun with bright citrus and some floral notes and mineral; and perhaps my favorite white of the tasting, 2010 Livio Felluga Rosazzo Bianco Terre Alte (Friuli Venezia Giulia), a blend of Tocai Friuliano, Pinot Bianco, and Sauvignon Blanc, absolutely lovely with characteristics of bright and smooth fruit and blossom, complex and delicious with a perfectly clean and smooth feel.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Winter of Rhone

Like I mentioned a few weeks back, it never really got very cold this winter (fortunately!), so I didn’t open my usual winter go-to wines, which would be bold spicy Shiraz, big Piemonte reds like Barolo and Barbaresco, and of course Napa and Sonoma Cabernet, Bordeaux blends, and Spanish reds.  Sure, a few got opened and thoroughly enjoyed, but admittedly, this was the winter of Rhone.

2009 Domaine Brusset Gigondas Tradition Le Grand Montmirail

I’ve always had an affinity for what I believe to be an ideal blend of fruit, spice, and earth, with that hint of wildness and funk and some animal characteristics, and that’s what I tend to look for in most Southern Rhone wines.  Something about the personality of a Southern Rhone I find very compelling - it’s like a person with a free spirit trying to keep it tame and reserved, but once poured, it gets wild and borderline aggressive in the glass, with aromas bursting and beckoning, and the outdoorsy characteristics reminding the drinker both on the nose and the palate that many Rhone blends are anything but tame.  They are, to me, free spirits - a team of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre bringing out the wine drinker’s appreciation for something less well-behaved, less tame, less reserved.

2010 Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone

In short, Rhone wines make me feel differently than Burgundy, Bordeaux, Toscane, or Piemonte do, and I believe it’s because a very different personality is unleashed whenever a bottle of Rhone is opened, decanted, poured, and enjoyed.

2008 M. Chapoutier Cotes du Rousillon Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut

I’ll include perennial favorites from Southern Rhone - Domaine de l’Harmas Chateauneuf du Pape (the red served at my sister’s wedding in 2010) and of course the dependable, inexpensive, and easy-to-find E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone.  New Rhone favorite blends from this winter are Chapelle St. Arnoux Vacqueyras, M. Chapoutier Cotes du Roussillon Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, Domaine Brusset Gigondas Tradition Le Grand Montmirail, and a straight Syrah, Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone.  The Southern Rhone wines tend to show characteristics of wild fruit, dark berry, plum, chocolate, dark flowers, spice, black pepper, lots of earth, leather, and roasted meat, and sometimes “animal” characteristics.  If it sounds kind of different, that’s because it is.  There’s nothing quite like a good Rhone.  And I can’t seem to get enough of them.

2006 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone

2009 Chapelle St. Arnoux Vacqueyras

2006 Domaine de l’Harmas Chateauneuf du Pape

This spring and summer I hope to hunt down some good white Rhone blends, made up of mostly Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Grenache Blanc.  The E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc is always enjoyable and dependable, and recently I tried the Ogier Caves des Papes Cotes du Rhone Heritages Blanc that was fascinating for sure.  I’d also like to locate more Rhone dry rose.  Last spring I tried the E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose as it’s very easy to find in wine shops, and I’d like to try some more.

2009 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Blanc

2008 Ogier Caves des Papes Cotes du Rhone Heritages Blanc

2010 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose

Monday, February 13, 2012

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

When I was really young, I was a fan of Mister Rogers (confession, I’m still a fan of Mister Rogers).  My Mom says that it’s as if he was speaking directly to me, that the things he said perfectly described my thoughts, my fears, my behavior, etc.  Mister Rogers, in one of my favorite songs of his, tells us that, “I like to take my time, I mean that when I want to do a thing, I like to take my time to do it right.”  He then goes on to explain that hurrying can cause a person to make mistakes, and that, in order to do something - anything - correctly, it’s best to take your time.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I’ve always embraced this mentality, taking my time with just about everything I do, in order to do it right.  To this day, I still tell people that I can’t really afford to make many mistakes.  The few times in my life that I’ve made some really unnecessary and costly mistakes were situations where I allowed myself to be hurried.  But the only thing worse than making such mistakes is making mistakes and failing to learn from them.  And for me, it was just a matter of remembering that in fact, I’m far better off taking my time to do things correctly.  I’m still questioned on that point regularly - Why do I need to proceed so cautiously?  Why do I need to take so long to make a decision, and then act on it?  Am I going to take forever?  What am I waiting for?  For me, the answer is simple - timing is everything, and I need to take my time.
Have you ever opened a bottle prematurely?  Do you remember why it happened?  Do you remember what it felt like to experience a wine that wasn’t nearly ready to be opened?
Chances are, the wine felt a bit uptight and tannic.  Ideally, you want to time it properly when you open a bottle.  Granted, not all bottles are intended for aging, and those should be consumed young.  But it pays to do some research and determine when is the best time to open a particular bottle.  Once a wine has aged properly, it becomes smooth, and the aromas (at this point we’d call it the bouquet) and flavors have reached their potential, and the wine is at its best.  A white wine would now appear a bit golden in the glass, and the color of a red would tend to lean toward brickish.  What maturity and personality the wine will show, and how smooth it will feel.  It will be like a person with experience and sensibility and confidence that allows the person to show their full potential, without any awkwardness or uncertainty - smooth, elegant, and compelling.
The key is patience.  When you buy a wine that’s intended for aging, you must respect this, and find a cool place to store the bottle, where it will not be disturbed.  And you need to be patient.  As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.”  And I’m perfectly comfortable waiting for a bottle to mature properly, even if it takes years.  I want to treat it as it was intended, and I want to allow it to reach its full potential.  I want to maximize the experience, each time I open a bottle.
I have a few wines that I’ve been waiting for, and I will be opening them within the next year or so, some California but mostly French and Italian - and some more over the next few years, and others will not be opened in the near future.  Last year, my parents bought me a bottle of 2007 Far Niente Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon - that bottle needs to age.  This past Christmas, one of the bottles they bought me was the 2007 Freemark Abbey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and it needs to wait a few years.  And last week I bought myself a bottle of 2009 Domaine Tempier Bandol La Tourtine, and that one really needs to wait a while.  So while those three and a bunch of other bottles that I dare not disturb are putting a great deal of temptation in my path, I’d rather wait until I’m fairly certain that they’re ready to be opened.

While I won’t advise you to be too deliberate in all areas of your life (although I’m guessing most would agree with me on that), I will highly recommend that you do your research with your wine bottles and make sure you wait patiently for them to be ready.
Not only sands and gravels
Were once more on their travels,
But gulping muddy gallons
Great boulders off their balance
Bumped heads together dully
And started down the gully.
Whole capes caked off in slices.
I felt my standpoint shaken
In the universal crisis.
But with one step backward taken
I saved myself from going.
A world torn loose went by me.
Then the rain stopped and the blowing,
And the sun came out to dry me.
Robert Frost, “One Step Backward Taken”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Unique Reds at Sacramone’s

Yesterday I got to visit an Italian restaurant that recently opened on Long Island, called Sacramone’s.  I knew the food would be excellent and of course it was.  But after reading over their wine list, I was really excited to do some sampling.  Sacramone’s wine list includes some “safe” wines, but also offers lots of lesser known Italian wines that pair perfectly with their fantastic dishes.

First was the Zimberno Aglianico Del Vulture Michele Laluce (Basilicata), a fairly deep red wine, smooth with characteristics of dark fruit, earth, and a bit of smokiness, and very food friendly.
The next wine was the Mutro Melissa Rosso Superiore Cantina Val Di Neto (Calabria).  This blend of Gaglioppo and Greco Nero felt slightly lighter in body than the first, and initially bore some resemblance to Carmenere, in that it shows lots of fruit characteristics laced with a bit of bell pepper.  However, the pepper doesn’t get in the way of the other characteristics, allowing the fruit to show.  This is another food friendly wine.
I’m pretty sure my favorite was the next wine - Montefalco Sagrantino Terre de Trinci (Umbria) - it’s a dark red wine with big characteristics of dark fruit, smooth spices, earth, and dry crushed flowers, and a lovely texture.
Before leaving, I also got to try a fascinating red from Sardegna, the Rei Cannonau Di Sardegna Capo Ferrato, a different sort of wine with characteristics of dry fruit, rum, spice, and also a briny characteristic.  It’s probably the best wine from Sardegna that I’ve ever tasted.
Each wine was very unique, expressive of its place of origin, and clearly not at all tampered with by their winemakers.  For me, it’s more fun and more interesting when a wine is allowed to show what makes it different and sets it apart from others.  Too much consistency takes away a wine’s identity, and we’re left with more of the same things we see day in and day out.  But this was not the case with the wines at Sacramone’s - they each have an identity, and it’s very clear that their winemakers took care to protect the identity of the grapes and let the wines speak for themselves.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Presentation of Wine

Anyone who has been reading my blog, Facebook posts, or Twitter posts over the past several months must realize by now that I have a fascination with the wines from South West France.  Maybe that seems like a peculiar fixation, since Tannat, Courbu, and Manseng aren’t exactly the most trendy wines.  Well, it all began back in September when I attended a tasting of twelve South West France wines, presented by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer and Master Sommelier Scott Carney.  Aside from the mysterious, bold, aromatic wines that took over the room where we tasted, what really drew my attention to the wines was the way they were presented to us - it was the first time I heard Master Sommelier Dexheimer present wines, and the second time I heard Master Sommelier Carney present wines.  And their enthusiasm and passion for the wines was so contagious I couldn’t help but perceive the wines enthusiastically.  But they also presented the wines and went through the tasting very technically, and that approach - enthusiasm but a profound respect for the wine region, the producers, the grapes, etc., is exactly what sparked my interest in the wines from that region.

Tasting wines of South West France

When I go to a tasting, whether it’s at a tasting room, a restaurant, or a more formal setting, I attend because I want to learn and to experience something different.  I want to be able to take that knowledge with me, and I want to apply it to more research and tastings, and I want to impart it to my readers.  If someone bothers to read my blog posts, the least I can do is give them something fun and informative to read.  But I also believe that people who grow grapes and produce wine are giving wine drinkers their very best effort - and to take a frivolous approach to tasting their wines would be doing them an injustice.
I love going to wineries and tasting new releases - but I get pretty frustrated when a person pouring and presenting the wines in a tasting room isn’t familiar with the wines at that winery.  I’ve gone into some tasting rooms and spent hours discussing the wines with the person pouring, and learned a great deal about what that particular winery is doing in terms of growing, harvesting, producing, etc., and I feel very satisfied when I leave a winery with a stack of tasting notes and information - and I look forward to telling my readers all about it.  And then I’ve been to some tasting rooms where the person pouring couldn’t even answer my questions about whether the wine spent any time in oak, or what percentage of each grape type was in the wine.  I’m sorry, but to me, that’s just not acceptable.  The people growing, harvesting, and making the wine deserve a lot better, and the people attending the tasting deserve better.
And then a few months back I attended a tasting at a restaurant, where five wines by a particular winery were being shown.  The presentation of the wines was “bare bones” at best, but it was rather an expensive tasting to attend, and I was going to make the best of it.  So when I got to speak privately with one of the presenters, and told him that I was going to be writing a blog post about the wines presented that night, I asked him some questions, and got no answers.  So I finally asked him, “Is there anything about the winery that you’d like me to know?”  His response: “It’s a very pretty winery.”  It actually made me feel foolish for even asking him the question.  I’m sure it’s a lovely winery, but that’s not the answer I was looking for.  I was hoping for something informative.  So all my blog readers got to hear about from that tasting were my own notes on color, aroma, flavor, structure, but nothing about the winery, nothing about the vineyards, the barrels, etc.
Tastings and presentations are important - sometimes that’s our only chance of sampling certain wines.  And presentations where the room is extremely warm, or the wines are the wrong temperature, or the presenter has no knowledge of the product, make the wines show poorly.  And I’m pretty sure the winemakers deserve for their wines to show better than that, after all the effort they put into it.
I know there are a lot of people who take tasting and writing very seriously.  I like it to be fun and I like it to be informative.  I’ve been told that sometimes my tasting notes look kind of long and detailed, but for me, that’s the whole point.  A wine with complexity and nice structure, and expressiveness of its terroir, is what makes me feel inspired to discuss the wine, and tell others about it, and encourage them to try it as well.  Wine can be such a wonderful way for people to connect.
I’ve also read some articles and posts by people who write about wine.  I love hearing about unique experiences, exciting wines to try, and interesting observations.  I’m not saying it should always sound like it came from a textbook, but fun and informative is what I like in a wine article.  And then there are those trendy words like “yummy” and “tasty” that seem to show up more and more often in articles about wine.  I could be wrong, but it seems to me that “yummy” is a word that probably should not be used to describe wine - I feel like it’s dumbing down what could have been a well thought out discussion of a wine.  And recently I read an article about rather an important Bordeaux, which undoubtedly took a great deal of effort and years of learning to produce such a wine - and the writer of the article called it “yummy.”  Again, I could be wrong, but don’t the people putting their very best efforts every day into that wine deserve a lot better than to have their masterpiece called “yummy”?  It’s one thing if a few of us are having a fun discussion about foods and wines and words like that are used.  But when we’re depending on an expert to write a review of a special wine, in my opinion, words like “yummy” and “tasty” just won’t do.
I do realize it would be unrealistic to expect everyone to present wines the way Master Sommelier Dexheimer and Master Sommelier Carney do - they’re among the very best at what they do; their enthusiasm and passion for wine is unparalleled, and their knowledge is priceless.  After attending their presentation, visiting South West France someday has become a dream for me, and since I heard them speak about those wines, I’ve been researching and tasting as many South West France wines as possible.  Wines from Cahors and Madiran have found a special place in my tasting notes, and I’m currently trying to hunt down some wines from Irouleguy, which I found to be the most mysterious at the tasting.  And when I attend a well-presented tasting, I have even more respect for those whose efforts make wonderful wines possible and available to us.

Preparing to take notes on some important wines from Bordeaux

Friday, February 3, 2012

Funky Jura Wines

To say that the wines of Jura tend to be “funky” is almost an understatement - I had heard mixed opinions about Jura wines but finally got to try a white and then a red - and they’re not bad at all.  They’re just different.
Jura is that fairly cool climate wine producing region between Burgundy and Switzerland.  And the wines I tried are both from Arbois, by Tissot.
The white was the 2008 Tissot Arbois Selection blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Savagnin.  The wine is almost golden in color and slightly cloudy, with characteristics of nut, blossom, and an almost strange spiciness, plenty of acidity, and what felt like an oxidized characteristic (which I later leaned is what’s expected of a wine like this).  For my palate, a wine like that takes some getting used to, but it was an interesting experience.  I think this funky wine would pair best with a funky cheese.

2008 Tissot Arbois Selection Chardonnay/Savagnin

The red seemed to agree with my palate more than the white did - it was the 2010 Tissot Arbois Vieilles Vignes Poulsard.  The wine is youthful and fairly light, bright red in color, and also fairly light in body, with characteristics of tart red fruit, cherry, apple skin, a bit of herb, and an earthiness reflecting its limestone and clay soil, an almost white mineral characteristic.  There is lots of bright acidity with youthful tannins and a respectable finish, and leaves the palate feeling clean.  The wine seems very food friendly and it’s likable.

2010 TIssot Arbois Vieilles Vignes Poulsard

Those Jura wines are definitely unique and I’d be happy to try more of them.