Archive for the ‘Wine Journals’ Category

Part of our gift package after my team one first prize at the Défi de Bacchus 2009 wine tasting competition in Lyon, France. Figured it was time to crack open the bottle. So cheers to the ONE-FOUR!

Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Tasting Notes: Ruby red in the glass. Predominantly grenache and syrah, with some mourvedre, Abeille-Fabre vineyard, 14.5% vol. Bright, fresh berries on the nose, accompanied by a subtle spice. Overall a fairly tight nose, lacking some expression. Fruit-forward flavors of black cherry and brambleberry, immediately followed by dark chocolate. This wine is full-bodied with balanced tannins and a juicy acidity. The finish is slightly bitter but would be balanced out nicely with a hearty meal.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Price: US$44 @ Gift from Défi de Bacchus 2009 and the Sup’ de Coteaux wine club


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This bottle was a gift from a close French friend, Marie, who visited me and my family in Worthington, Ohio, as part of her 3-week US road trip vacation. She was visiting from Paris. Merci beaucoup Marie!!!

“Givry, famous as the preferred wine of King Henri IV, produces mostly red wine in the Côte Chalonnaise district of Burgundy. The rare white wines, a tenth of the total production (predominantly with Chardonnay), are often particularly interesting with a soft bouquet reminiscent of licorice. The reds have more structure and ability to age than those of neighboring Rully, but less depth than Mercurey. About one-sixth of the vineyard area is designated Premier Cru, including Clos Marceaux, Clos Salomon and Clos Jus.” (Source: The Oxford Companion to Wine)

Remoissenet Père & Fils Givry Blanc 2011
Tasting Notes: 100% Chardonnay, 13% vol. Golden honey hue in the glass. Very fresh, pleasant and mildly herbaceous on the nose, balanced by a fruity richness with notes of peach, citrus fruits and subtle sweet spices. Juicy and well-balanced tartness on the palate with flavors of green apples, fresh lemons and oranges and mild notes of green grass. A fairly straight-forward, unassuming and very enjoyable wine, perfect for sipping on the porch or pairing with shell fish, white fish or other light fair.
Rating: 15/20 (89/100)
Price: ~US$ 30 @ Nicolas in Paris

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By Sarah James

So, you’ve been thinking about those beautiful apartments in Paris, thinking about whether or not the time has come for a hop over the North Sea. The kids have all flown the nest, you don’t enjoy your job anymore and it just feels like there’s nothing holding you back from going all European for the next twenty years of your life.

Wait a minute.

Are you doing your deliberating without a glass of vintage red in one hand? If so, you’ve got a lot to learn before you can qualify for a life in Paris and it starts with knowing your Beaujolais from your Pinot Meunier and your Riesling from your Colombard. Here’s a guide to five French wines that you absolutely MUST try before you die. These wines are the clearest sign we have that life is ever strange and wonderful but that alcohol is better.

Château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1996 

Le Château Lafite Rothschild is a wine estate in France that dates back to the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, the word ‘lafite’ means small hill and this castle on the hill is one of the France’s most prized. The château Lafite Rothschild Pauillac consistently tops lists designed to find and identify the best wines in the world.

Unfortunately, it also tops lists of the most expensive too. However, you get what you pay for with this red – it is simply superb. Flavourful and silky, with a slightly dark, smoky aroma – this vintage red leaves a taste that lingers for a long time.

Château Prieuré-Lichine 1982

This bold, peppery red is from the Margaux region of Bordeaux and was actually made under the supervision of the infamous Russian wine writer and entrepreneur Alexis Lichine. As a former student at the University of Pennsylvania, Lichine knew first hand just how ignorant Americans were about fine wine and he took it upon himself to change that. According to Yahoo Voices journalist Anne Wright, Lichine is praised with helping to make Americans aware of French wine. This 1982 red is a classic and is recommended for its extremely silky texture and subtle balance of flavours. It’s expensive but it won’t cost you your mortgage like several of the other entries on this list.

Château Latour 1949

Latour is a name that’s synonymous with quality in France. Grapes have been cultivated on this wine estate since the 14th century and Latour wines are especially renowned. They’re very rare and extremely expensive, so if you ever run into a glass – make sure you enjoy it. Critics have called the 1949 red an opulent, voluptuous wine that flirts with perfection at times. A six litre bottle of Château Latour sold for a whopping £135,000 at auction in 2011.

Château Le Pin Pomerol 1999

Château Le Pin is the name of a wine estate located right on the banks of the Gironde estuary. Wines from this estate are highly prized by dedicated collectors who are usually willing to pay thousands of dollars for just one bottle, says Ask Men journalist Matthew Simpson. This is mainly due to the fact that the wines produced by Château Le Pin are considered to be ‘garage wines’ – they come from a mid 90’s desire to change the taste of French red wine. Though widely criticised by purists, this movement was actually very successful and the wines it still creates are highly sought after. This 1999 Pomerol is famed for its hints of mocha, currant and black cherry.

Château Margaux 1995

This bold red is almost jet black in colour, making it a curious and dramatic wine to indulge in. It has quite a racy flavour, punctuated by notes of cherry and blackberry. This 1995 is powerful stuff and you’d do well to enjoy it slowly. It’s definitely one for sipping with dark meats or rich chocolate desserts. Why not combine all three in a romantic meal on the balcony of that apartment in Paris you’ve been thinking about? Book a holiday now and you could be there in a few weeks time.

Author Bio: Sarah is a wine critic and expat living in France. She recommends Chez Nous for a great range of accommodation and holiday apartments in Paris. Sarah can be found blogging about a variety of holidays around Europe.

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By Sarah James

The history of champagne and sparkling wine is one that involves the refinement of particular wine making processes, from the early discovery of how to create bubbles using secondary fermentation, to the use of a Methode Champenoise to create high quality wines. While you might want to invest in different kinds of pre-made champagne and sparkling wines, it’s also worth considering how you can make champagne at home. This can be achieved in several ways.

In terms of home brewing, you can opt for a simpler fermentation process, or a variation on the Methode Champenoise. The former approach involves using champagne yeast, grape juice, and sugar to perform a two step fermentation. For this, you’ll need brewing caps, a hydrometer, a bottle capper, and the right grape varieties – Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir are typical options to take. When preparing your ingredients you’ll need to ensure that your hydrometer is set to a gravity level of between 1.070 and 1.080 to get the right results.

You can start the champagne making process by first creating white wine through a standard fermentation routine – you can find base wine and brewing kits to help you with this approach. White grape juice can be bottled and mixed with sugar and yeast, and left to gradually ferment until the wine has taken on a cloudy appearance with yeast sediment – the wine can then be siphoned off into a bucket or barrel to remove this sediment.

The next step to take is to create a syrup for the champagne by mixing one part water and two parts sugar, which can be boiled and stirred into wine, before being capped. The wine can be left to stand in a cool place for about 3 months, until it has become crystal clear, and sediment has gathered at the bottom of the wine; the bottle can then be refrigerated.

If you’re feeling more ambitious, the Methode Champenoise can be used to make champagne at home. Create your base wine, which should have an alcohol content no higher than 11.5 per cent, as well as no additional stabilisers. You should then remove deposits as part of a normal fermentation, before adding a cup of sugar into the wine, which can be transferred into sparkling wine bottles and capped for 6-12 weeks at 15 to 20 degrees, or room temperature.

You’ll then have to disgorge the yeast from the bottles, which involves using a cardboard carton or a rack to turn a bottle upside down; the bottle should be half turned every day for two to three weeks until sediment is transferred towards the cap. Freezing the neck of a bottle can also help to dislodge sediment, which can be quickly removed once you remove the stopper – make sure that you cover up the top of a bottle as soon as the sediment has been removed, though, otherwise you can end up losing most of the liquid within.

Author Bio

Sarah is committed to finding the best examples of champagne from around the world.  She can be found online blogging about food and drink and loves to learn more about different wines and wine making.

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The Vintage: “A vintage summarised as a vintage that ripened without interruptions and producing moderate yields. Low to moderate winter rain with good follow-up rains in November enabled adequate moisture to support the potential crop load and allow it to slowly develop over summer. The summer was cool and dry followed by a very dry, warm autumn, which was unusual. This allowed many varieties to ripen early and without interruptions. The fruit has great floral aromatics with good intensity and perfectly balanced with excellent concentration, flavour development and length as well as lovely ripe, gritty tannins. Nearly every variety we have harvested exceeded classified expectations due to the exceptional autumn conditions.”

The Winemaking: “Very concentrated ripe bunches of Shiraz and Viognier were gently crushed by the “Demoisy” open mouthed, rubber toothed crusher, then co-fermented together in traditional, headed down open fermenters where the traditional foot-treading in wader- clad feet takes place. After about 2 weeks the must (the still fermenting juice) was then gently basket pressed by our 19th Century “Coq” and “Bromley & Tregoning” presses, and then transferred into American and French oak barriques for maturation.”

d’Arenberg “The Laughing Magpie” McLaren Vale 2005
Tasting Notes: 94% Shiraz, 6% Viognier, aged 12 months in American and French oak. 0.7 g/L sugars, 6.8 g/L acidity, 15% vol. Blood red in the glass. On the nose there are strong black fruits, pretty floral notes, balanced oakiness, and sweet vanilla-cinnamon spices. Dark chocolate dominates on the palate, accompanied by ripe cassis and blackberries, a juicy and balanced acidity and smooth tannins. This is a big but also well-integrated wine.
Rating: 16/20 (91/100)
Price: US$19.99 @ Winelibrary.com

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I just returned home from a 2-month political campaign project in San Bernardino, Southern California, A.K.A. “San Berdoo”. I was pleseantly surprised to find two bottles waiting for me, sent for review from Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW) out of Ontario, Canada. Let’s see how they hold up! This will be my first tasting ever of a Lake Erie North Shore VQA.

Test subject one is a Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer blend. Test subject number two is a limited production, “Grand Crew”-labeled blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Lake Erie North Shore VQA 101: “Lake Erie North Shore appellation encompasses the vineyards in the southwestern extremity of Ontario. This favourable southerly location combined with the warming effect of the shallow waters of Lake Erie allow this appellation to enjoy a long growing season and promotes ripe fruit with a perfect balance between natural sweetness and acidity. Lake Erie North Shore has a long growing season and the highest number of heat units of all of Ontario’s viticultural areas. The light-textured, well-drained soils around the lakeshore contain mostly sandy loam and gravel deposits punctuated by small, irregular stony ridges, which overlay shale limestone bedrock. (The region) benefits from the quick summer warming of the shallow waters of Lake Erie as well as from an abundance of sunshine during the growing season. Early harvests are the norm, with picking usually beginning at the end of August and late-harvest often reach their peak by late October.” –VQA Ontario

“Posh Cuvée” Lake Erie North Shore 2011
Tasting Notes: 12.1% vol. Chardonnay-Riesling-Gewurztraminer blend. Light, straw-yellow in the glass. Slightly cosmetic on the nose, with notes of tropical fruit and apple. In the mouth, the attack offers a nice acidity, balanced by a silky-smooth texture. This is a full-bodied, semi-sweet white, displaying tangy flavors, similar to the nose – green apples and indistinguishable tropical fruits. The finish is a bit sour. An overall decent wine, lacking in complexity and expression and a bit too linear, but still quite tasty.
Rating: 12/20 (82/100)
Price: $13 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

“Grand Crew Reserve” Lake Erie North Shore 2008
Tasting Notes: 14.5% vol. Cabernet sauvignon-Merlot blend. Barrel-aged 4 years. Small lot production, 105 cases. Deep, dark red in the glass. A rich and powerful nose with notes of dark fruits, berries-a-plenty, vanilla spice and pretty floral aromas. The 14.5% alcohol definitely comes out, but without any unpleasantries. Quite to the contrary, the complexity and beautiful aromas make this wine very welcoming on the nose. A bit too sour on the attack but the sweet tannins help to balance out the mid-palate. There are flavors of dark chocolate and blackberries. This wine is a bit disjointed, performing much better on the nose than on the palate. The alcohol is a bit over-powering as a stand-alone wine BUT let’s be clear, this wine was made with rich and hearty meals in mind. This is a quality wine and gets my recommendation, although the $50 price tag seems a bit much.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Priace: $50 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

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J.F. Carrille “Chateau de Fussignac” Bordeaux Superieur 2003
Tasting Notes: Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend, 12% vol. Dark, ruby red hue, turning a bit brick red-ish near the edges. Still quite fresh on the nose with beautiful notes of black fruits, brambleberry and sweet vanilla and cinnamon spice. Velvety, smooth on the attack but then immediately transitioning into a very dark chocolaty texture and flavor on the mid-palate with the tannins at the forefront. Balanced pretty well by a juicy acidity and flavors of blackberries, black cherries and vanilla. This is definitely a food wine, no surprise there. This will pair perfectly, as planned, with Bordeaux’s hearty cuisine of confit de canard and fois gras.
Rating: 15/20 (89/100)
Price: ~US$20 @ Lionsbridge-Ebay

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