Archived entries for French Wines

California, French and Italian Quarterly Wine Update

I had fallen behind on the work #ThirstyThursday events so it was imperative that I grab some co-workers and taste some wines.  This time, we had 14 wines from California, France and Italy.  I’m featuring the nine that made the list which did not, for the record, include the wine marketed to the “inner diva” in me.  If that what my inner diva looks like, I would say that she should stay bottled up.

White Value Wines

California

2012 Jekel Vineyard Riesling – notes of white peaches, apricot and citrus.  I fell in love with this wine last Summer.  It still is great, but something about drinking it on a cold January day vs. pool or porch-side was different. It made me yearn for warm weather.

2012 Bonterra Chardonnay – tropical fruit, almonds, lemon with a touch of oak, but had balance.  A nice chardonnay for those who don’t like chardonnays.

Italy

Bolla Prosecco NV – always a totally quaffable sparkler with notes of green apple and toast.  Drink with OJ or without.

Red Value Wines

California

2012 Artesa Pinot Noir – strawberry, black cherry, oak with floral notes.  Hands down, this was one of the top wines tasted.

2011 Bonterra Zinfandel – was what a zinfandel should be – smoky, spicy and big.

2012 Five Rivers Pinot Noir – smoky, dark cherry, earth and good balance. 

France

2012 Domaine Constant-Duquesnoy Vinsobres — a classic Rhone blend with notes of cherry, spice, herbs, earth and flowers.  This was one of my new value favorites that I will be looking to buy at my first opportunity.

Italy

2010 Bolla Creso Rosso Verona – lots of fruit, cassis, spice and leather.  A good Tuesday night pizza or pasta wine.

Red Date Night (with someone you like a lot)

2012 J Vineyards Misterra Pinot Noir ($50) – a new J Vineyards wine combining Pinot Noir, Pinotage and Pinot Meunier was earthy with notes of herbs, flowers and fig.  I really enjoyed the unique taste and blend of this offering.


A Few of My Favorite Sparklings

Courtesy of Pierre Peters Champagne

I published a few of my favorite sparkling wines at a variety of price points just in time for your New Year’s celebration.  See what you think of what I published in Culture Map Dallas.  What are your favs?


Take Time to Be in the Moment

For the last nine years, I’ve hosted an annual girl’s wine club champagne and sparkling tasting.  Usually this involves me recruiting my kind husband who cooks massive amounts of great food paired with very loud conversation, lots of catch up and of course bottles and bottles and bottles of sparkling wines and champagne. 

Each year there seems to be one dominant brand — and 2013 was the year of Perriet Jouet, which was ironic because that trend continued on a carriage ride a few days later with friends.  Someone asked me if I was ready to blog about everything we tasted the memorable and not so memorable.  While I got some good content for an upcoming Culture Map article about sparkling wines, my answer was no.  I love blogging and I love writing Dallas Wine Chick, but this was a time for friendship, good food, catching up and just being in the moment.  Truly what the holidays are all about and if you approach it with a notebook in hand, you are going to miss what is really important.

And so, my dear readers and friends, put down your notebook and look up.  That’s how memories are made.  Cheers and happy holidays!

 


Malai Kitchen: Off the Beaten Path Wines and Rockin’ Asian Food

I was an invited guest of Malai Kitchen, the Southeastern Asian cuisine restaurant owned by Yasmin and Braden Wages, for a food/wine pairing showcasing their off the beaten path wine list.  I visited the Thursday evening prior to “Icemaggeden.” 

The restaurant is located in Uptown and the concept was inspired by the Wages’ travels to Thailand and Vietnam and their love for the cuisine.  Braden serves as the executive chef and Yasmin manages the front of the house as well as the wine and beverage program. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I love this style of food and while the cocktail and beer lists look great, I encourage you to try their wine list.   The Wages have put so much time into putting together a well thought through, approachable and unique wine list.  Many of the wines that I tried were ones not familiar to me and the ones that I have tried before were on my favorite list.  Malai offers 20 wines by the glass and they are great values. 

We tried two dishes and started with two wines per dish, but quickly Braden and Yasmin began pulling out others that I just had to try.  Their enthusiasm and passion for food and wine was contagious and I loved spending time with this delightful couple.  

We paired the ahi tuna spring rolls with the Rodez “Cuvee des Crayeres” Ambonnay Grand Cru champagne from France.  At $45 for the bottle (yes, at a restaurant – grand cru champagne at $45 a bottle)…, I got fresh baked bread, floral notes, minerality, pear and apple.  It went really well with the spring rolls, which were fantastic.  Our next wine was the 2012 Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal at $7 for the glass or $26 for the bottle.  With a slight effervescence to it, I tasted notes of lemon and apple.  Another great match. 

The next course of Thai coconut soup was paired with a 2008 Domaine Laru Murgers des Dents de Chien, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru at $11 a glass or $42 for the bottle. The acidity and depth of this wine worked perfectly with the soup.  The second wine was the 2007 Pinot Noir Domaine Jean-Michel Guillon Les Crais (Gevrey-Chambertin, France), which was priced at $12 for the glass, $46 for the bottle.  This was a pairing that I never would have considered but it rocked.  Big notes of cherry, earth and spice worked perfectly. 

Yasmin and Braden wanted to share the 2010 Domaine de Nalys Chateaneuf-du-Pape at $38 for a half bottle.  I got lavender, pepper, rose, cherry and spice.  I wish more Dallas restaurants offered half bottles so you can better pair the dishes with the wine.  Malai has this as well as a 2003 Sawyer Merlot half bottle at $25. 

Our final course was an Australian lamb shank with Massaman curry which was a great match with the lamb. We then moved to one of my favorite Syrah’s from the New World, the 2005 Longoria Clover Creek Vineyard Syrah, at $10 a glass and $38 a bottle.  Lots of wild cherry, berry, plum and oak in this wine and it rocked the lamb.  You can’t find this wine easily in Dallas – come and drink it before I do.  Our final wine was the 2006 Chateau Compassant Bordeaux at $10 a glass or $38 for the bottle. I definitely preferred the Syrah with the lamb, but they both worked. 

Thankfully, Dallasites are moving beyond the safe choices and trying the adventurous wines with happy outcomes.  And with a 4-7 happy hour with $6 wines, cocktails and a happy hour appetizer menu from Monday to Friday and all day on Sunday, you have every reason in the world to try Malai Kitchen.  I have already returned with my husband and kiddo and all signs point to us becoming one of the many regulars who rely upon the Wages’ hospitality.


A Quick Twitter Trip around Italy, France and Wines for the Holidays

Exhibit A of what not to drink after a Bordeaux tasting

November was the season of Twitter tastings and I was asked to be a part of three tastings – one from #planetbordeaux, the second from #Franciacorta, and a Whole Foods Top Holiday wines under $25.  Lesson learned #1 – if you really want to enjoy the next morning, don’t invite your girlfriends over, taste all the wines and then plan a crazy night out.  Lesson learned #2 – and I should know better – even if you are spitting the wines, tasting eight of them in one evening leads to palate fatigue.

You may remember that I was blown away by the sparkling wines from Franciacorta during the last Twitter tasting.  Let’s just say that “the blush is not off the rose.”  I continue to be blown away by the versatility, complexity and individuality of these sparkling wines.  We tried four during the tasting and they were delicious:

-          Antica Fratta Brut ($25 retail) – notes of green apple, flowers; citrus; bread and a nice minerality.

-          Bellavista Cuvee ($35 retail) – pear, apple, fresh baked biscuits and ginger made this blend in my top #2.

-          Ricci Curbastro Extra Brut ($40 retail) – it was complex with minerality and savoriness; notes of almond, fresh baked bread and pear.  I loved it.

-          Contadi Castaldi Rose ($25 retail) — notes of berry, spice, flowers and bread.

The other tasting scheduled the same night was the Whole Foods: Holiday Wines Under $25 Tasting.  We tried several wines with other bloggers around the country including the following:

-          2011 Grace Lane Yakima Valley Riesling – notes of peach and green apple with spiciness that would be perfect with a holiday dinner – especially turkey.  This was in my favorite two.

-          2012 Tablao Navarra – notes of stewed plum, tobacco and cherry. A nice tempranillo for under $10.

-          2008 H&G Priorat – nice balance with notes of black cherry, vanilla and black pepper.  This was my favorite of the tasting.

-          2011 Les Hauts de Bel Air Bordeaux Rouge – notes of raspberries, blackberries, violet and black pepper.

The final tasting was for “Planet Bordeaux for the Holidays.”  This is #Planet Bordeaux (shout out to Duran Duran’s Planet Earth).

There I said it as it goes through my mind every single time I see the hashtag. We had a line-up of six wines that were all priced under $15 and all were ready to drink today although some may benefit from decanting.

-          2011 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux – red fruit, herbs and oak.

-          2011 Chateau de Camarsac Bordeaux – spice, berry, cassis and plum.  This was one of my favs.

-          2011 Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux – cranberry, herbs, spice and blackberry. Definitely one of the top ones from the tasting for me and many of the participating bloggers.

-          2011 Chateau du Bois Chantant Cuvee Laurence Bordeaux Superieur – plum, soft berry, cedar and mocha.

-          2010 Chateau des Arras Bordeaux Superieur – plum, vanilla, mocha and toast.  This is a fantastic wine for the price (under $14).

-          2010 Domaine de Courteillac Bordeaux Superieur – oak, berry, plum, chocolate and a touch of anise.

To read more about these Bordeaux wines, visit www.planet-bordeaux.com.

 


Another Wine Round Up: Great Entertaining Wines

It’s time for another round of wines from around the world and this week focuses on Chile, Spain, Portugal and Italy.  Most of these wines are under $25 and the majority under $15.  A good showcase of values and “off the beaten path” wines make these regions ones to try.

Chilean

  • 2012 William Cole Albamar Sauvignon Blanc – grapefruit, citrus, flowers and orange blossom.  This was the favorite white of the tasting.
  • 2012 Como Sur Sauvignon Blanc – herbaceous with lots of grapefruit and green apple.
  • 2012 William Cole Columbine Special Reserve – citrus, floral, grassy and a nice balance of minerality
  • 2012 Garcia and Schwaderer Sauvignon Blanc — grapefruit and notes of honey.

Spain

  • Campo Viejo Garnacha – very drinkable with notes of cherry, flowers, spice, vanilla and oak.  A great easy drinking Tuesday night pizza wine.

French

  • Joseph Drouhin 2011 Bourgogne Pinot Noir – red cherry, black cherry, earthiness, red raspberry, balanced fruit.  A very nice pinot noir for a value price.
  • Joseph Drouhin 2012 Bourgogne Chardonnay – a nice Old world style with notes of lemon, vanilla, honey with a nice balance and in the style that I prefer in a chardonnay.  I really enjoyed this wine.

Portugal

  •  Herdade Do Esporao 2012 Monte Velho White – tropical, vanilla, peach and lemon peel.  Had some depth and layers to the wine.
  •  Herdade Do Esporao 2012 Monte Velho Red – bramble, berry, bramble and cedar.  Very drinkable but would benefit with food.

Italy

  •  2012 San Pietro Lagrein – plum, cherries, spice, floral and oak
  • 2011 Elena Walch Lagrein – blackberry, cherry, chocolate, floral with a nice balance.  This was one of my favorite reds with that tasted much more expensive than $20.  This was the crowd pleasing red for our group.

 


Thirsty Thursday Round Up: My Finds in August

It’s time for another round up of wines and I brought in my colleagues to help me taste them.   I think I’ve been pretty vocal about really enjoying my role with the new company that I joined the end of February.  Because there were so many review wines coming in and I wasn’t happy with my delay in reviewing them, I started #thirstythursdays at the new company.  It was here that I met Randy, one of my most colorful and fun colleagues.  You see Randy doesn’t like wine much at all.  But, after proving I could hang with the boys on a business trip to London, he agreed to come to these tastings and provide classic commentary.  More to come on his quotables later.

We tried 17 wines over several Thursday’s in July and August with varying price points.  Below are my favorites:

Whites:

Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto di Colli Martani – apricot, lemongrass, honeysuckle and lime.  I really enjoyed this refreshing white with a SRP of $14.

Bolla Soave Classico 2011 – For $8, this is a refreshing white with notes of lemon and pear.

Reds:

Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape 2005 – I really liked this wine.  It was juicy and balanced with brambly fruit, pepper and notes of chocolate.

Arcadian Syrah Stolpman Vineyard 2005 – this wine had a nice minerality with notes of Asian spice, raspberry, white pepper and Asian flavors.

Domaine du Terme Gigondas 2003 – this was a soft wine with notes of tobacco, cranberry, licorice, white pepper and soft tannins.

Montefalco Rosso 2009 – black cherry, mocha and one of the tasters exclaimed, “this wine makes me happy” and shouldn’t wine do just that?

Scacciadiavoli Sagrantino di Montefalco 2007 – very earthy, dark fruit, young berries and herbal, but has a lushness.  If the first white listed above, the Montefalco Rosso and this wine are indicative of wines from Umbria, I’ve doing more research on the region.

Matchbook Tempranillo 2010 – notes of blueberry, blackberry, mocha and chocolate make this a very smooth and balanced tempranillo.

Bridlewood Cabernet 2011 – black fruit, chocolate and caramel makes this wine beg for a great piece of chocolate or blue cheese as a great match.

Coppola Votre Sante Chateau Red 2012 – cherry with some nuttiness.  The presentation of the $14 wine was quite impressive, but I’m not sure if it was because it was a blogger sample.

Tendril Pinot Noir 2010 – one of my favorite samples that I’ve received in quite some time.  Full of black cherry, herbs, blackberry and floral notes, this was a fabulous wine and exactly what I would expect a great Oregon Pinot Noir to be.  I have my eye on Tony Rynders, owner and winemaker, and expect great things from him in the future.

So back to Randy, who I hope will be providing more colorful quotes in the future (to wines that did not make the cut) like “this is not a taste that I like, it’s like sucking on a vinegar bottle” or this tastes “like a wine vampire.”  For the record, he did find a few that he even liked, which is a great thing about the vast differences in wines that are produced.

 

 


Summer Whites Perfect for a Costa Rican Summer Vacation

My daredevil 7 year old who ziplined upside down every chance she had

One thing that I’ve learned in my travels is that the wine cellar at my house usually has a much better selection (and certainly is a much more cost effective choice) than buying wine from a resort.  So, when traveling to Mexico (or in this case Costa Rica), I put a case of assorted bottles together in a shipper, check it with the airline and hope the wine arrives intact (it always has).

This trip, I received several samples that I knew were Costa Rica vacation worthy.  The first was from my friends at J Vineyards & Winery.  You may remember that I had a chance to sit down with Kathryn Lindstrom, COO, and Melissa Stackhouse, winemaker, during the recent Sonoma in the City visit in the Spring and I was a big fan of their wines.   They shipped me a sample of the 2011 J Pinot Gris that was perfect for the beach.  It had notes of tropical fruits including banana and pineapple with a fresh crispness and minerality.

The second set of samples included the 2011 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone North Red Rocks! and 2012 Stepping Stone by Cornerstone North Coast White Rocks! with the new packaging that I mentioned during my March Napa trip.   I love the winery’s philosophy of making the best possible blend based on the blends of Southern France for a price that is affordable.   We tried both the red and white with new friends with rave reviews and lots of label picture taking on their end.

On the red, I got big notes of red fruits – both stone fruit and berries, spiciness and a juicy mouth feel when drinking this wine.  It was perfect with my husband’s grilled steak but didn’t overwhelm my grilled fish.  The white was crisp and great for outdoor patio weather.  The wine had lots of fruitiness with notes of floral, tropical fruit, apple and pear. It was perfect with the ceviche and mahi-mahi freshly caught that morning by my wonderful family.

I also was able to find a refreshing wine at the resort that was a Chilean sparkling wine.  I saw the bottle listed for $11 on the Internet. Let’s just say that you couldn’t get a glass of that at the Four Seasons Resort at that price.  Undurraga sources grapes from Central Chile including Maipo made in a New World style with lots of strawberry, minerality and crispness.  It was an unexpected find in Paradise.


Club W: A PYOW (Pick Your Own Wine) Club

I don’t have to tell you that there are a lot of wine clubs out there – and most of them don’t allow you to pick the wines that you receive. Lately I’ve noticed a trend that puts the consumer in charge.  Club W does just that.  It is a wine club focused on bringing consumers value wines without being pretentious or telling you what you should drink based on some “expert’s” palate.  It allows you to choose the wines based on your taste and have them shipped directly to your door.

Club W asked me to experience why their way of doing things is different.  As part of the process, I filled out a Palate Profile, a questionnaire that helps Club W choose wines matched to my tastes.  Once I submitted the questionnaire, twelve wines were recommended to me and I choose three for shipment.  All of the wines are $13 retail, so your subscription is $39 plus a flat rate of $6 for shipping.  If six or more bottles are ordered, shipping is free.

While one of my original choices was out of stock, there were 11 other wines that I could select.  I ended up with the following:

The club also has wine choices of “still available” from past selections and “curator’s choice,” wines that are offered for $19, a slightly higher price point.  After you receive and taste your shipments, you can post your wine ratings so Club W can further customize your selections.

The mission of Club W is to take the guesswork and pretention out of enjoying wine at a value price point.  You’ll find no jargon or ratings, but the ability to discover what it is that you like without breaking the bank.  Each bottle also comes with a QR code that links back to Club W content, which includes video reviews of the wines that are accessible from the Club W mobile app.

The Club W people were nice enough to offer Dallas Wine Chick readers a free $13.00 credit, which is basically 1 bottle of free wine, if you sign up.  Use this URL and enter a coupon code of 411dallas.

I hope you enjoy the journey.


Wine Review Round-up: French, Spanish, Italian and California

With the new gig, a little behind on wine reviews… 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a wine round up and lately I’ve been fortunate enough to try some really great wines at all price points.  Since I started my new job in Dallas, I have been instituted “Thirsty Thursday’s,” where I gather my co-workers and we have team building with wine involved.

I’ve listed my favorites in several different categories based on trying more than 40 wines.  These were often tried by region, varietal or price point.

Value Wines ($15 and Under)

2011 Domaine Maby La Forcadière – a dry rose with a nice minerality and notes of raspberry and flowers.  I really enjoyed this rose and I don’t give compliments on roses lightly.

2011 Bolla Soave Classico – a well-priced summer wine with citrus, apricot, peach and a nice crispness.

2012 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Blanco – tropical notes, crisp and refreshing.  Another great summer refresher.

2012 Vina Ventisquero Sauvignon Blanc – citrus, tropical fruit, minerality with a nice balance of herbs and a creamy texture.

2012 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc – apple, grapefruit and pear.

2011 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Carmenere – a nice expression of Carmenere with blackberry, forest floor, mocha and spiciness.

2010 Matchbox Dunnigan Hills Syrah – at $10, this wine with notes of raspberry, currant, black fruit, cocoa, spice and jam, was the best red wine that I’ve tried at this price point.  It had depth and complexity that I have never found in a $10 bottle.

2009 Ruiz de Viñaspre – I tasted lots of red fruit and floral notes in this 100 percent tempranillo.  It was a well-balanced wine and very drinkable with or without food.

2010 Vina Zaco Rioja Tempranillo – lots of vanilla and spice with blackberry and mocha.

2009 Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Pomal Crianza – blackberry, licorice, cedar, mocha and spice make this a well-balanced wine.

$15 to $40

2001 Ramirez de La Piscina Gran Reserva – all spice, flowers, cherries, currant and lots of depth.  This is an elegant wine that is drinking very well today.

2005 Finca Allende Rioja Allende – notes of blackberry, cherry, earthiness with layers of depth.

2005 Deobriga Rioja – smokiness combined with lots of red fruit, flowers, vanilla, spice and tobacco.

2006 Grupo Olarra Bodegas Ondarre Reserva – a very smooth wine with lots of rich red fruit, dates and spice.

2009 Domaine Bressy-Masson Cotes du Rhone-Villages Rasteau Cuvee Paul Emile – this was a rich and smooth wine with notes of blackberry, fig, tobacco, black tea, spice and chocolate.

2009 Domaine du Pesquier Gigondas – this was a big wine with lots of terrior, berry, black cherry and herbs.  This was a very well balanced wine.

2010 De Martino Legado Reserva Carmenere – another good expression of Carmenere with notes of tobacco, flowers, vanilla and cassis.

Over $40

2007 Finca Monteviejo – a powerful wine with blackberry, plum, mushroom, currant, dried fruits, spice and earth.  Exactly what a great Rioja should taste like.




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