Tag Archive | French wine

2014 Domaine Le Clos des Lumieres Grenache

Thanksgiving weekend was full of good wine – chosen for me by the owner of our local wine shop.  I stopped by the shop the evening before Thanksgiving, and had him pick out an assorted case of reasonably prices wines.  And none of them, so far, have disappointed.  Unfortunately, some went so quickly at our family gathering that I didn’t catch a photo, didn’t get a taste, and I don’t even remember what they were!

2014 Domaine Le Clos des Lumieres - Grenache

2014 Domaine Le Clos des Lumieres – Grenache

Tonight I am enjoying a French Grenache Blanc, a white wine with flavors of pineapple, lychee and apricot, with a bit of minerality.  It has a velvety mouth feel.  It wasn’t chilled when I pulled it from the wine rack, and I actually think it was better that way, with the higher temperature of the wine releasing more of the flavors and aromas.

I could really find much about it online, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it is a nice, everyday white.  Happy Monday!

 

There’s Less Competition for the White Wines…

I’m still working on the wines from the mixed case, and I have much more success getting some tastes of the whites!  Jon isn’t quite as interested in white wines, so I can open them at my leisure.  Here are my notes on the few I have tried lately.

2013 Gerald Talmard Chardonnay.  This wine is from the Mâcon Uchizy region in France and it is an unoaked Chardonnay with lemongrass and a hint of floral and herbal notes on the nose.  On the palate, it has a bright acidity with tart, light citrus and lemongrass flavors.  I like a good, crisp white wine anytime of the year, but this would be an excellent summer wine, enjoyed out on the deck with with BBQ chicken.  Ahh… now I want summer back, instead of this rainy, windy storm going on outside my window.  $11.99

My Mixed Case of Wine – I sampled the Scaia on the far left, and the Gerald Talmard , which is fifth from the right, with the bright yellow label.

My Mixed Case of Wine – I sampled the Scaia on the far left, and the Gerald Talmard , which is fifth from the right, with the bright yellow label.

2013 Scaia white wine.  This wine from the Veneto region of Italy is a blend of 50% Garganega, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Trebbiano di Soave.  However, there was some conflicting information on the internet, so those percentages might be somewhat different.  It also seems that the blend changes with each vintage.  This wine had flavors of peach, grapefruit, and pineapple with good acidity.  It also contained a nice balance of sweetness on the front of the tongue and tartness on the back of the palate. $10.99

Scaia is another wine that would be great in the summer, but would also be wonderful with spicy Thai food or stir fry.  The fact that Garganega was a grape I hadn’t tried before was just a bonus!  I loved checking a grape off of my Century Wine Club list!

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and you can be sure I’ll be enjoying some wines at our table.  What will you be having?

 

A Trio from the Mixed Case

We have had several days, and several wines that went by pretty quickly.  Although I don’t have detailed notes on them, I still wanted to share my impressions.

Atteca Old Vines Garnacha – 2012.  This Spanish red is 100% Garnacha, and luckily I got to taste it at the wine shop when I bought the case.  It has flavors of red pepper and significant peppery spice.  But I only got a few sips because Jon stole most of the bottle – he loved it.  This is certainly a wine we will buy again – $14.99

H-Henriques – 2011.  This French wine from the Côtes du Roussillon region is 50% Carignan, 35% Grenache, and 15% Syrah.  When I first tasted this wine, I wasn’t a huge fan.  It tasted highly of alcohol, with very sharp tannins.  After letting the wine sit for an hour, it settled down a bit and it was much more pleasant, but it wasn’t one of my favorites so far.  Jon liked it quite a bit more than I did though. – $7.99

Scaia Corvina – 2012.  This wine comes from the Veneto region of Italy and is 100% Corvina.  Corvina was a new varietal for me, so I was excited to cross it off my wine century club list.  Sadly, there will be no check mark for me.  Jon snuck in while I was working my way through another wine over the course of a couple days,  and drank it all!  I never even got a sip.  Jon loved it though, so we will buy it again – and next time I’ll get some! – $10.99

Happy Wednesday Peeps!

Famille Perrin 2011 Réserve Côtes du Rhône

Tonight I’m drinking Famille Perrin 2011 Réserve Côtes du Rhône.  Jon picked it up somewhere and brought it home, and I got the last glass to go with my dinner.  It is a French Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre blend made with grapes sourced both from the company’s own vineyards as well as purchased grapes.  Grenache is the primary grape in the blend, making up about 50% of the wine.

Famille Perrin 2011 Réserve Côtes du Rhône

Famille Perrin 2011 Réserve Côtes du Rhône

The wine has flavors of tart pie cherry, light tannins and smoke.  It is a fruit-forward, pleasant wine that tastes young, but is a great everyday weeknight wine.  The only thing I didn’t love was a weird flavor of pencil eraser on the finish – it was very brief though!  And no, I can’t explain how I know the taste is pencil eraser…

Overall, this wine is a good wine, and it was well worth the $7.99 price tag.

Book Review: Wine and War

I just finished Wine & War:  The French, The Nazis & the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure.  Written by Don and Petie Kladstrup, it tells the story of the German invasion of France in 1940 and the toll that the subsequent occupation took on the wine industry.

WineAndWar

The book begins with French soldiers trying to blast their way into Hitler’s cave at the Eagle’s Nest above Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s heavily fortified retreat in the Bavarian Alps.  What they found in that cave would amaze everyone – millions of bottles of intact French wine that had been “purchased” at ridiculous prices set by the Germans, or even flat out stolen from French winemakers and restaurants during the war.

After the introduction, the book tells the story of German occupation, with the German wineführers installed in different wine regions to negotiate with the winemakers for the purchase of their wine.  Of course, in reality it was a sham because the French were only permitted to sell to the Germans, and at prices that Germans set.

It tells the story of the lengths the French went to to hide their best stock, and to try to pass off inferior wines as high quality ones.  Although a lot of the wine was consumed by troops who probably didn’t know the difference between a great French wine and a marginal one, it was still a huge risk.

And of course, the wine industry fueled a lot of participation in the Resistance, with wine families participating or assisting others in acts of sabotage or intelligence gathering.  The vast French cellars were not only used to hide wine, but to hide members of the Resistance, Jews and even winemakers who had not supported the German cause enthusiastically enough to remain below the radar.

The authors reviewed many historical documents in their research and interviewed members of several prominent wine families who survived the war.  Some did not want to share information; they found it too painful to relieve the experience.  Yet others opened their family’s archives and told family stories about the humorous and the difficult experience of making it through.

The book is told through a different perspective; by and large these people were not soldiers, and the authors give great detail on the impact that war has on everyday people.  People who had to be incredibly brave and clever to survive, and to ensure that future generations still have the gift of good French wine.  It is certainly worth a read.

Have you read Wine and War?  What did you think?

Hugues Beauvignac 2009 Picpoul de Pinet

My recent Wine Century Party gave me a list of wine grapes that I hadn’t yet tried.  Last time I checked, I was at 77 grapes.  On our recent trip to California, Jon and I visited Total Wine on a mission to get some hard liquor for one of Jon’s friends, who gave us money and a wish list (I think WA state has the highest sin tax in the nation, so stocking up in California makes a lot of sense).  I had never been to a Total Wine before, so of course, I had to check out everything…

As I was wondering what I could get to round out my six pack (and feeling a bit overwhelmed), I happened upon this bottle of Picpoul de Pinet.  I knew it was on the list of grapes I haven’t tried yet, so I picked it up and brought it home.

Hugues Beauvignac 2009 Picpoul de Pinet (Sorry the silver lettering really doesn't show up very well)

Hugues Beauvignac 2009 Picpoul de Pinet (Sorry the silver lettering really doesn’t show up very well)

We opened it on the 23rd of December, as we were watching TV and wrapping presents, getting the last minute things done for Christmas.  The wine was made by Hugues Beavignac, from the Languedoc region of France.  Picpoul Blanc is one of the grapes permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but it lost much of its popularity after the French Wine Blight because of its susceptibility to fungal diseases, and because the low yield of the grape.

Upon opening the bottle, I got a light citrus nose.  On the palate, there was a nicely balanced acidity, with citrus and mineral flavors, and just a hint of butter on the finish.  Jon described the wine as balanced right between sweet and dry.  It tasted equally good the next day, when we took the bottle down to Christmas Eve dinner at Jon’s parents.

I was very pleased with the wine, and at $10.99, it was certainly affordable.  And now I am up to 78 grapes!

2010 Jean-Marie Arnoux Vacqueyras

Jon’s latest goal is to try more French wines.  I have to admit, we are both a bit intimidated by French wines, because we don’t know all that much about them.  The labels are confusing, and I just wish there were a quick cheat sheet to have in my purse for when I’m at the wine shop!  Now, Spanish wines I can decipher better, thanks to all those years of high school and college Spanish, but in French, all I can say is “I am pretty”, “I am single”, and “I would like a Coca-Cola, por favor.”  And I’m not even single anymore.  And yes, my brain inserts the por favor, instead of the French equivalent.  What can I say, there were a lot of years of Spanish in there, and a study abroad in Chile!

Thanks to a couple of blogs I read, I’m learning more all the time, and Jon and I have decided that we just need to take the plunge and start trying French wines.  So, at Costco last time, Jon picked out a Vacqueyras, from Jean-Marie Arnoux, or Arnoux & Fils, depending on where on the bottle you look.  Unlike the United States, French wine is named for the region where it is produced, and each region typically only produces one type of wine.  Additionally, there is a whole hierarchy of quality that I don’t pretend to know anything about, so I’ll save that post for when I’m not so miserably uninformed.

Here’s what I do know.  This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.  It has a nose of tobacco, earth and raspberry, and an opaque garnet color.  At first taste, you pick up berry and cedar with moderate tannins and a hint of smoke.  There is just a hint of acidity, which was a little surprising for me since Grenaches tend to be more acidic.  Overall, it was a very nice wine, and with Costco’s great $13.99 price tag, this will certainly be one that we buy again.

2010 Jean-Marie Arnoux Vacqueyras

2010 Jean-Marie Arnoux Vacqueyras

Sorry about the picture quality – those darn white labels!  I’ve got to run, so I can get working on my French wine cheat sheet!