Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2010 was the year for French rosé

There are many rosés on the shelf right now from the 2010 vintage, and the ones from the Côtes de Provence are particularly delicious. There’s a wide range of prices, but most are under $20 and there are some delicious finds for less than $10.

One of these great bargains is the 2010 bottling of Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence rosé. For just $9 you can have this delicious wine so suited for lazy quaffing on a summer afternoon before dinner preparations begin. It is so friendly that you can have whatever you want for an appetizer.

It has a beautiful pale color, a light salmon pink that offers a sumptuous nose of fresh fruit and summer. It is full of juicy flavor with a fabulous finish of fresh strawberry and kiwi. Yet, the mineral quality leaves your palette fresh and clean. More suited for mild cheeses, the label suggests it would go well with sushi, and I bet it would! It’s a delicious blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre. And it comes from one of my favorite areas of France – the southern Rhône and Provence.

I rate this with an 8.5 using my scale at the left.

Are you a rosé drinker? Tell me about your favorites! I’d love to try them.

A Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for summer

Sauvignon Blanc has always been one of my favorites for summertime whites, but finding a good one can be really hit and miss when you your price point is $10 or less. Granted, I will pick up more expensive Sauvignon Blanc from time to time; they usually come from New Zealand. But Chile has some good ones out there and it’s often worth the risk to buy one blind.

Such was the case with the Rayun 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from the Central Valley of Chile. This refreshing wine has a light, citrus nose with a hint of grass and some herbal undertones. This grassiness and herb note doesn’t come through very well on tasting; instead you’re hit with a juicy and bright flavor of lemon with a faint background of grapefruit. And the finish is long and lemony.

The acid in this wine worked well with some penne pasta served in a creamy Alfredo sauce and held up admirably with a spicy Italian sausage link accompanying the pasta. And for $9, that isn’t bad.

What’s your favorite summertime white? Do you share my love of Sauvignon Blanc? Tell me what you’re drinking this summer!

I rate this with an 8 using my scale at the left.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Washington Hills Gewürztraminer

Normally a Gewürztraminer can be a good pairing with spicy food, particularly Asian food. But this grape can come off too sweet, even bubble-gummy. The 2007 Washington Hills almost hits that too-sweet level, and what I had hoped to be a good pairing with spicy pork tenderloin didn’t pair so well after all.

This wine had a subtle melon nose when first opened, and when tasted, it might have been a little too cold. It had a nice, bright acidity with a smooth finish with pear and maybe even some banana. There was definite melon as well, which made the wine a tad too sweet for my pallet. And despite the spiciness of the pork, it didn’t mesh well. Oddly, it did go well with the vegetable medley I prepared: a simple preparation of zucchini and summer squash sautéed with red, yellow and orange bell pepper, seasoned with some chili flakes, oregano and cilantro.

The pork was quite good. I used a chipotle rub mix with dark beer, fresh lime juice, olive oil, garlic and some cayenne. I marinated the pork overnight, then baked in a moderate oven until almost done, letting it rest and finish cooking before serving. I think a drier Gewürztraminer would have worked really well with this.

I rate this wine with a 7 using my scale at the left.

A Beaujolais bargain

I need to do some serious catching up because I’ve tasted quite a few wines recently, but I just don’t seem to get around to posting about them in a timely fashion. And here’s one example that shouldn’t have taken so long.

Moulin-à-Vent is an appellation in the region of Beaujolais, which is north of Lyon and the Rhône where the red wines are predominately crafted with Gamay. Despite many Beaujolais being light bodied, those from Moulin-à-Vent can cellar well and are generally considered the most full-bodied of the wines. Geroges DuBoeuf has a rather nice one out now with the 2009 vintage, known as the “flower label.” It is reasonably priced and drinks easily.

Wine Spectator rates it with a 90, a really nice score for a wine that retails for $16 or less. Its minerality gives the wine a nice balance with the tannins and flavors of ripe cherry and a bit of blackberry. Not sure I get the fig, however. And it does have a juicy finish. I served this with a steak and it was delicious!

This can be held for another 4 to 5 years, so I recommend you pick up more than one bottle when you see it.

I give it an 9 using my scale on the left.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Like canned peaches

It can be difficult to find a decent Riesling with just the right amount of sweetness that it isn’t cloying, as these wines are excellent pairings with spicy food. But American Riesling tends to be too sweet for me, and I ran into one recently that was disappointing.

Another wine suitable for pairing with spicy food is Gewürztraminer.

Granted, there may be those who will like the 2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling from Columbia Valley, but I won’t be among them. And adding to my disappointment is the fact that I had some very nice wines from Chateau Ste. Michelle in the past.

This wine was paired with pork tenderloin that had been in a spicy Korean marinade for several hours before cooking. When opened, the wine already gave itself away with a heavy nose full of the “ripe peach and juicy” pear described on the label. Upon taste, I kid not, I was reminded of the juice that canned fruit is packed in. Curiously, the sweetness indicator on the bottle placed this wine right in the middle between medium sweet and medium dry.

But you have to remember that my preference is for dry to off-dry whites. I don’t mind a sweet wine occasionally, but the flavors need balance, and this was a bit heavy. Even when eating the spicy pork tenderloin, the wine was still too syrupy. Oddly though, it did pair well with the butternut squash that was seasoned with nutmeg.

I’ll give this one a 4 using my rating scale at the left. But remember, if you like this type of wine, you may like this one.