Tag Archive | Mourvedre

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.

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!

Who Knew Jon Would Be Craving a Rosé…

The recent days of sunny weather put Jon in the mood for more Rosé, so we opened up a bottle of Syncline Wine Cellars 2010 Rosé.  Syncline is a small family owned winery in Lyle, Washington, on the Washington side of the Columbia River, right along the border with Oregon.  We had stopped there for a visit on our 2012 President’s Day Weekend Wine Tour.  For more information on that visit…

The Syncline Wine Cellars owner and winemaker tends toward the science of winemaking, and it is apparent when you read the tasting notes on their website.  It is made in the Saignée style, where the skins remain on the grape for a short period of time to impart some color, but the juice (the must) is drained off before it darkens to the color of a red wine.  Syncline uses a different blend for their Rosé each year, sampling some of the best grapes of the year from around the region.  This year they sourced their fruit from the Columbia River Gorge (Pinot), Horse Heaven Hills (Grenache and Mourvedre), and McKinley Springs (Grenache, Cinsault, Couniose and Carignan).  And throw in a bit of Red Mountain for good measure.

Syncline 2011 Rosé Label - a Different Blend than the 2010

The 2010 Syncline Rosé is a blend of 33% Pinot Nor, 17% Grenache, 17% Cinsault, 15% Carignan, 9% Mourvedre, and 9% Counoise.  Other than the Pinot Noir, these are all relatively rare grape varieties, and all ones that I have really enjoyed in other wines.  This blend  has a melon nose, with bit of grapefruit.  It is a dry wine which has a brief taste of strawberry, but a lingering taste of honeydew and grapefruit.  It has a very dry finish. Jon announced that it is one of the more complex Rosés he has tried.  On a hot day, this wine will really hit the spot.  I recommend it for when you are in the mood for a dry Rosé.

The Recommendation….

Yesterday we went to a new grocery store in town for the first time. It has touted itself as having an extensive selection of high quality wine, so I wanted to see if they had the goods. Whenever I check out a wine store, I always want to know if it has wines that I can’t find other places. Wines I haven’t already seen in every other shop in town.

The layout is a little unusual – when you go into the wine section, there is a small walled off entrance with one way in and out. Good thing I’m not severely claustrophobic, because that might pose a problem. After he helped another customer, Mark the Wine Steward came over to Jon and I to see if we needed any help. So, I decided to try him out. I asked if he had any single varietal Chenin Blanc. He pointed to an empty spot on the shelf and explained that the previous customers had just purchased the last bottle. He told me that it is a French Vouvray, and told me that Vouvray is the French name for Chenin Blanc. Off to a pretty good start, but when I looked it up online I learned that Vouvray is actually the region in France – but it is planted almost exclusively with Chenin Blanc.  So… he was close enough. Mark also showed me a couple of run of the mill Chenin Blancs from Sutter Home and Hogue, but told me that they were known for being sweeter wines. He didn’t say it out loud, but you could tell he wasn’t a fan – and neither are we.

Jon and I usually know what we are looking for, but we know far more about domestic wines than European ones. Mark mentioned that he lived in France for a year, so I asked him to recommend a nice dry Rose. He showed me three French Roses with price points of $10, $11 and $20. I picked the $11 wine, the 2010 Recolte Rose by Domaine Sainte-Eugenie, because it is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre. When we tried it last night, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a little light, but the perfect end for a very hot day.   For $11, I will certainly take Mark’s recommendation again.

Let’s go Danish in the heart of California

Day 3 of our journey led us back to the cute little Danish town of Solvang.  We didn’t feel like we had enough opportunity to explore it the day before, and both Jon and I were in the mood for relaxing.  We headed up there after taking our time in the morning, and our first stop was the Solvang Antique Center.  I was expecting a place with some antiques, some collectibles and lots of little stuff to go through.  This place had hundreds of antique, ornate, grandfather clocks.  And old, huge European furniture.  And a few glass items.  In short, nothing that we could afford, and even if we could, it wouldn’t fit into our house.  We saw one clock priced at $57,000!  Wow, talk about a step up from my IKEA clock!  So, I was in the mood for antiquing, and this place didn’t satisfy me, so we drove up the road to Los Alamos to another antique mall.  This one had the fun stuff I like to look at.  It is housed in a turn of the century train station, and it was neat to see the original floorboards.  If you get tired of shopping, you can have a seat at their wine tasting bar.  We were tempted, but we hadn’t had lunch yet…  We both saw some things that we liked but we saved our money like good little newlyweds – you have to have some for wine!

After my antique itch was scratched, we headed back to Solvang to find lunch and enjoy the afternoon.  We looked around at our lunch options – sushi, German food, ice cream, and we finally settled on a place called the Little Mermaid that offered traditional Danish fare.  I ordered the combo plate, which included Danish sausage, Danish meatballs with gravy, pickled cabbage and mashed potatoes.  Jon thought I was nuts to order that on a hot day and went with the salmon.  My verdict on Danish food is that is kind of your typical European, non-spicy meat and potatoes.  I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that I would go seeking it out if our hometown opened up a Danish joint.  They had a really good passionfruit flavored iced tea though.

After lunch, we wandered down the main drag to Lion’s Peak Winery’s tasting room.  It is decorated with lots of leopard and zebra print, and kind of reminds you of an art gallery.  Their labels are taken from art by a local artist whose prints are hanging in the tasting room.  The server was a lot of fun, and liked to growl like a lion periodically (perhaps she was doing a tasting of her own, under the table).  They had several wines that we really enjoyed, including a buttery Chardonnay that was one of Jon’s favorites, a Mourvedre that I really enjoyed, and a dark full bodied Zinfandel that was outstanding.  Of course we got some wine from there, because best of all, they were having a sale!  To make room for new releases!  We even got some wines for our moms – sorry moms, you’ll have to wait and see what you get.

Lion's Peak Winery Tasting Room in Solvang, CA

Next we headed down the street to Lucas and Lewellen.  This place was hopping- it was really packed!  It was interesting though.  They pour you a taste, don’t tell you anything about it, and then leave.  When you finish that one, they are right there to give you the next taste.  I did find it odd that there was no description, no chit chat, none of it.  It was very impersonal.   I wondered if maybe it was because they were chatting up the locals, but they really weren’t very much.  Later that evening, I read an article that described them that way – that they leave you to your tasting.  I guess it is just a matter of personal preference – but I like to hear about the winery.  They had some good wines, and some that were ok.  I didn’t feel any of them were real standouts though.

After wine tasting some, we wandered around in the sunshine for a bit and stumbled upon the Wednesday Farmer’s Market.  Oh wow, the peaches!  Huge and juicy!  We bought 4, and enjoyed one on a bench in the sun.  I wish our farmer’s market had peaches like those – I can dream…  Next up was saltwater taffy.  We picked two of all the flavors that looked good and ended up with about a 1/2 pound of candy.  We were able to make it last a whole day – hey, we are on vacation here, we have to enjoy ourselves!  We should have gotten more.

After walking through a gate in the adobe wall, we were at the Santa Ynez Mission.  We took pictures of the outside, but didn’t do the tour of this one.  I guess at this point we were a little “missioned” out.  They did have a beautiful rose garden, and a youth ministry building called “The Vines.”  Ummm, starting them a little young down here on the wine, aren’t you?

Jon ringing the dinner bell

The last winery of the day was The Presidio Winery.  They are an organic and biodynamic winery, which means no pesticides, but also that they use the lunar cycles to determine when they will plant, pick and do other things to the grapes.  They plant beans and other crops in between the rows to provide nitrogen to the soil too.  I was looking forward to their wines, but I wasn’t impressed.  They do only unfiltered reds, which apparently means they come cloudy and tart.  There was not a red in the bunch that I enjoyed.  The whites were better, but unfortunately, there wasn’t a standout there either.  Jon did get a tealight holder that sits in a wine bottle, so he was happy, but we weren’t tempted to buy any wine.

After heading back to the hotel, we looked up restaurants on TripAdvisor.com and found a Brazilian restaurant called Maqueca (pronounced MAH – CAKE – AH)  in Oxnard, CA.  What a find!  Maqueca is a traditional Brazilian fish stew – you can have it with fish, shrimp, lobster, mixed seafood – however you like it.  It is served with sticky rice, and a gelatin-like stuff that she said was made of flour.  You spread out your rice, put the gelatin substance on top of that, and then spoon your maqueca on the top.  It isn’t very spicy, but you can add VERY HOT chili peppers if you would like to.  I tried one – that was one too many for me!  The stew was delicious!  When you order, they say it serves two, but even with Jon’s appetite, this stew could have been for at least three.  We had a lot left over, even after stuffing ourselves full of big chunks of fish and shrimp.  I would have loved to take it home – our server said it is even better the next day, when the spices have had more time to marinate.

We went back to our hotel room, stuffed and happy, to share a bottle of wine.