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Posts Tagged ‘chenin blanc’

It’s unfair to a certain extent, because I l*o*v*e Chenin Blanc in it’s French forms (Vouvray) that showcase honey, flowers, apples, and high acid.  I happen to think Vouvray are oft overlooked great ‘with food’ wines.

This one, well, it’s got the acid down.

Appellation:  Western Cape, South Africa

Tasting Notes:  100% Chenin Blanc.  Pretty pale color. Nose is mango, pineapple, apple, and lemon.

Dominated by the pineapple, this is a very high acid wine. Lots of lemon, a little mango too. On it’s own, it’s a little acidic, but with food, it settles down nicely. Am I going to run out and buy more? Probably not, but if I were having 50 people over for banquet chicken, this would work just fine. OK.

Price:  $7.99 at Total Wine

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Just a quick response and banter to the September 9th Wine Spectator article, “No Merlot di Montalcino : Brunello winemakers reject a plan to allow grapes other than Sangiovese in Rosso di Montalcino”. The gist of the article is that the local Consorzio rejected pressure from 30% of its growers to allow for a 15% non-Sangiovese blend in its Rosso di Montalcino. I posted a non-edited version of this article to the comments section of the Wine Spectator article …

I love history and terroir and maintaining a special niche for certain wines, but COME ON ! A debate over allowing just a 15% non-Sangio blend in the Rosso, the younger sibling to Brunello ? … Grow up Consorzio ! At the end of the day growers and vintners don’t JUST “do it” for passion and family. Winemaking is also a business and people need to maintain their livelihood. Giving producers more flexibility in vinification (and again, just a BIT more, not A LOT) would provide for more strategic maneuverability in the market and more options to stand out and separate their wines from the pack.

A lot of New World growing regions allow wines to be labelled Merlot, even with a 20% blend of other grapes, for example. Granted this might be a bad comparison and I’d air on transparency in this case and require that the “other” varietals be listed on the back label, which I believe is the case, although I could stand corrected.

In the end winemakers MAKE wine for it to be consumed right ? If there’s a drop in sales and a disinterested market, then let’s be progressive and creative and stir the pot a little (or vat and barrel rather), trying out some new recipes !

PS : Okay so this is just a very brief and rather generic counter to the Consorzio’s vote and the majority opinion of the local growers. What does the rest of the public have to say ? I’ll kick-start the counter to my arguments with a very interesting August 31st article on JancisRobinson.com, “Keep Rosso di Montalcino pure!”, including a letter to the Consorzio from Nicolas Belfrage MW, urging against allowing the 15% non-Sangiovese blend.

PPS : And just to admit that I’m a total hypocrite, I worked in business development (just a quick 6-month contract) for Domaine du Closel, a Savennières producer of the Clos du Papillon, Loire Valley Grand Cru and a representation of Chenin Blanc at its pure state of hedonistic perfection ! How’s that for objectivity ?! ;-) I can’t say that I’d support even an ounce of blending in these wines. It’d be sacrilegious ! So do I have any argument against my hypocrisy ? Not really although wait I think I do ! I guess the key difference is that Clos du Papillon (and Coulée de Serrant and Roches-aux-Moines) are designated Loire Valley Grand Crus. Savennières is essentially legislated and syndicated as the birthplace and essence of the beauty, expression and typicity of Chenin Blanc, whereas Rosso di Montalcino is the litter sister (or brother) to Brunello. Therefore, I’m sorry but little brothers and sisters get beat up on sometimes. So i say preserve the integrity of 100% Sangiovese in Brunello di Montalcino and loosen up the little sibling a bit. Although I do love the irony in the 2008 comments of Ezio Rivella, one of Italy’s most prominent oenologists and current President of the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino. Ezio referred to 100% Brunello blends (i.e. Sangiovese) as “undrinkable”.

In either case I digress, the vote already passed and no changes will be made anytime soon. So on that note, cheers to 100% Sangiovese ! ;-)

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2010 Indaba Chenin Blanc

Appellation: Western Cape, South Africa

Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc.  13.5% ABV.  The color of straw.  Nose is tropical with quite a bit of minerality.  Juicy, mouth filling.  Tropical fruit, melon, and fantastic minerality, with tight acid on the back end that makes you want to gulp it.  Well balanced, even a touch of sweetness that offsets the acid.  Very food friendly.  Screaming deal.  Would certainly be a crowd pleaser as well.

Rating: 4/5

Price: $9.99 at Beltway Fine Wine

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Our beloved Leslie Lovo takes the Gold, going 4 for 4 on the blind tasting, during the 2010/2011 inaugural MPA Wine Tasting, this past Saturday. Felicidades Leslie ! (the 5th round was a wash or maybe a slosh describes it better, because people were a little too happy by that point) And thanks to Keith and Kelsey for being such wonderful hosts !

In order of tasting …

2007 Domaine des Roches Neuves (Thierry Germain) “L’Insolite” Saumur
Tasting Notes : 100% chenin blanc, clay-limestone soil, fermentation in oak barrel, aged 12 months in oak, 13% vol. Quite raw, fleshy, fruity and complex on the nose, almost effervescent, with notes of fresh grass and flowers. Full-bodied, balanced, slightly off-dry and a little sour in the mouth. This wine is rich and slightly bitter with flavors of apples, peach and dried raisins.
Rating : 15/20 (13.3/20 MPA average)
Price : 18€00 @ La Grande Epicerie Paris

MPA winos …
Laura, “makes my inner thighs tingle” (14/20)
Jonathan, “dewey Spring morning” (11/20)
Christina, “pineapple, orange blossom” (13/20)
Rajul, “baba au rhum, pear with a hint of fresh paint thinner” (9.6/20)
Sayko, “onion rings with vinegar” (17/20)
Virginie, “swimming pool” (15/20) (more…)

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My wife and I made dinner for some out of town friends.  I didn’t take formal notes on the wines, but here’s what we had.

2008 Washington Hills Riesling Paradise Peak

Appellation: Washington State

Served With: Spinach Salad with Warm Citrus Dressing;  Butternut Squash Soup

Tasting Notes: 100% Reisling.  11% ABV.  Didn’t take formal notes, but this was a very nice wine.  Great fruit, but also food friendly aciditiy and minerality.  Off dry, so non wine folks will like this.  Great match with a spinach salad (spinach, red onion, cranberry, orange, feta) and warm citrus dressing, also great match with butternut squash soup.

Rating: 3/5

Price: $9.99

2008 Noël Bougrier Anjou

Appelation: Anjou-Saumur (Loire Valley)

Served With: Scallops in Butter, Wine, and Sage; Risotto

Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc.  11% ABV.  Didn’t take formal notes.  This was crisp, great acid, but pretty one dimensional. A versitile food friendly white, but that is in part because there isn’t much going on.

Rating: 2/5

Price: $9.99

2009 Spier Chenin Blanc

Appellation: Western Cape, South Africa

Served With: Scallops, etc.

Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc.  13.5% ABV.  Didn’t take formal notes.  Very interesting.  Lots of grapefruit, some melon, and an interesting smoke aroma and on the palate.  Nice rich mouthfeel.  Interesting and very good.  Great value.

Rating: 4/5

Price: $7.99

All wines purchased at Beltway Fine Wines

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This past Friday and Saturday, on location at my new gig at Domain du Closel - Château des Vaults, I took the opportunity to visit three more neighboring Savennières producers. After visiting six Savennières producers in three days, I’m extremely pleased with the quality and diversity that we all have to offer. Domaine des Baumard, very well-known in the US, might be the first Savennières producer to experiment with screw caps. All of their wines are now bottled with screw caps, which is very much a “New World” approach, and can be considered quite provocative among the traditionalists of France. My second visit was with Claude Papin of Château Pierre Bise. Claude is an anti-communicator communicator. Boy can the man talk ! He is passionate about terroir, a “terroirist” if you will. He believes a good wine should sell itself through its terroir, not through marketing and promotions. Although this is a very admirable and inspiring approach, my personal and professional belief is that like a good wine, it should always be a balance of the two. After all, if we make a good wine, then we want people to drink it ! Unfortunately, this usually requires a little bit of business communications. In either case Claude is a great viticulturist and winemaker and should be respected as such. My final visit on Saturday was with Jo Pithon of Pithon-Paillé. Jo is what some refer to as a “peasant” winemaker. He is very friendly, approachable and casual and is knee deep in his winemaking. His Anjou Rouge is one of the best I’ve ever had.

Below are the wines I tasted … (more…)

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OK so I lied, I really didn’t meet with Nicolas Joly. BUT I did have the pleasure of tasting with his daughter, Virginie, the next generation of biodynamic viticulturists. In fact she’s now in charge of winemaking at Coulée de Serrant. After this first tasting, I stopped by Domaine aux Moines for a tasting with owner and former winemaker, Monique Laroche. My final stop was with Luc Bizard, owner of Château d’Epiré. I’ve always been a huge fan of Savennières wine, especially for its complexity, minerality and great expression of terroir. However, I’m now an even huger fan I must say. The majority of the wines were showing very well and the commitment of each producer was evident. These visits were part of my second day on the job at Closel – Château des Vaults in order to gain a better taste of what our neighboring wineries are pumping out. This is not about competition. This is about spreading the word on the beauty and quality of Savennières, which so many of the local producers are offering, including us I might add ! ;-)

Below are my tasting notes. The overall conclusion is that I’m a huge fan of the 2008 Savennières vintage … (more…)

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