a mighty fine week for French!

Let’s talk about France, baby, let’s talk about you and me… let’s talk about all the gooood grapes that. come. from. France. Let’s talk abooouut FRANCE!  Let’s talk about France. (that was for you, Blythe)… 

Anyway, here’s the news from me this week- two things- 1.) I think Colombard is officially my favorite white grape of Spring 2013!  and 2.) Bordeaux is BACK!

frenchie frenchies.

frenchie frenchies.

Let us waste no breath in diving into this post- WINE NUMERO UN: Uby Colombard/Ugni Blanc, 2012 Cotes de Gascogne. This is the second Colombard I’ve written about this Spring. It will also serve as the second installment in what I will call my Summer Crack Juice Series (read first one here for definition).  We need those!  This is the time of year in Columbia where we are all bracing ourselves for Summer to really start.  Spring is bittersweet, as it doesn’t last long and in the back of our minds we’re trying to prepare for the upcoming heat.  So once it starts, we need to ease our pain with lots of refreshing Summer Whites to get us through until September.  Okay, October, really.

So, what’s this wine all about?  It is a blend of 80% Colombard and 20% Ugni Blanc.  Never heard of Ugni Blanc?  Not that shocking.  It is known as Trebbiano in Italy, where it is in plentiful supply.  Actually, Trebbiano is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world.  It makes simple yet refreshing whites, and I think in this case, serves to lighten up this wine overall- the Colombard is very zesty and citrusy, and so the 20% addition of Ugni just mellows it out a tiny bit.

uby

As the label so aptly describes, this wine is fantastically crisp and light; nice tangy notes of tangerine and pink grapefruit are met with exciting flavors of passionfruit, guava, and prickly pineapple.  Maybe a touch of fresh flowers, too.  Clean, alive and vibrant.  Absolutely perfect for Spring, and packs the right amount of acidity to really refresh you once the 90+ degree weather sets in.  Definitely make a spot in your fridge for a permanent bottle of this to be open at all times.  Even better?  It retails for a fantastic $12!  

Next?  Wine NUMERO DEUX: St. Glinglin “Carte Verte”, 2010 Bordeaux.  

glinglin pig

So, because I am a spoiled, lucky little General Manager and wine nerd, a few weeks ago I was invited to have dinner with the fellow who makes this wine, Richard Betts, who is a way cool Master Somm.  Actually the first MS I’ve properly met, aside from the ones who proctored the Intro Class to the Court of Master Sommeliers back in 07 (I think?).  I only remember them as being white haired, wearing suits and not overly memorable.  But Mr. Betts was lots of fun and definitely got my attention with his philosophy and energy.  And the wine is awesome!

So St. Glinglin roughly translates to “when pigs fly”– hence the cute little piggy on the label.  The idea behind this name is that Bordeaux will be accessible and affordable “when pigs fly.”  So here we are, with a flying pig!  Cuz this wine is both of those things!  So accessible, affordable- two attention-grabbing facts about this wine (it retails for $21).  And let’s not forget drinkable.  Because that is crucial.  This wine really grabbed me because it is standing on a very delicate precipice- an old world wine that, while it is attractive to a typical American palate, is also true to it’s roots; it is definitely still a Bordeaux.

glinglin back

This wine is deeply colored and has nice concentration.  Initially, it has a solid amount of that French stank that I love so much.  Yes, I love a good stanky red wine.  A tiny bit funky, a tiny bit musty, a tiny bit dirty.  Those bits give way to some nice powerful notes of black cherries, sweet tobacco, very mellow vanilla bean, plums, some bitter chocolate and no shortage of minerality on the finish.  This wine spends 18 months in cement, which makes the fruit notes pop, and at the same time really enhances the mineral content.  So what is the blend?  Wellll, I am debating not telling you.  This is a great wine to taste without knowing what’s in it!  But, I am not feeling especially cruel today, so I will tell you: it is almost all Merlot with a smidge of Cabernet.  (“Smidge” being a technical term).  But listen here: ain’t nobody got time for anyone out there sipping on a giant glass of haterade and being all “I hate Merlot!”  That time has passed.  There’s no more Merlot hatred.  You need to get over it.

But in all seriousness, I do believe this wine is something of a trend-setter among a younger generation of wine-drinkers. If you want to really geek out, here’s a few articles that tie into this theme- here and here and here.  And here is a piece written by Mr. Betts that will be a fun read for you, too.  Also, it should be noted that this wine is currently being poured by the glass at Cellar, and so if you really need to taste to believe, come by at your convenience and do just that.

That’s all for today, cheers and happy French wine drinkin’!

 

Spring. Whites. Lots of ’em!

Needless to say, I have not been off to a perfect start in 2013 when it comes to blogging.

Truth be told, I have no clue how this year has gone by SO. incredibly. FAST.  There hasn’t been a week where I haven’t tried to sit down and write, but… I just don’t know what happened.  Not going to waste a lot of breath trying to make excuses.  However, one exciting thing that took up most of my energy in March was that I passed the CSW!  I spent a lot of free time cramming for that thing in March.  I’m relieved to have passed, as that sucker was a combination of extremely easy and extremely hard; for example- one question would be: “Which of the following is a red grape?” with four choices (easy), then the next would be: “Put these Chilean wine regions in order from South to North.” (not exactly easy).  But it’s over with and now I get to have CSW next to my name in my gmail signature.  Yahoo!

But I am excited to be back in the saddle, especially because SPRING is one of my favorite times for WINE!  Why?  Well, Spring has that sort of infectious quality where excitement is tangible in the air (along with a healthy dose of pollen).  Although we don’t have particularly long winters here, clearly Columbians are fans of warm weather, and everyone gets happy in the Spring.  This year we had a freezing cold March, and even though we’ve sort of skipped straight to Summer, everyone is still happy.

And we have some absolutely perrrfect Spring whites in right now!  Another reason I love to hunt for Spring whites is that when you find one (or two or ten) that really captures the vitality and aliveness of Spring in a bottle, it is a truly magical event.  So here are three to get us started…

photo 1 (13)

First up (far left) is the Guild (Lot #6) Pinot Gris/Riesling, 2011 Columbia Valley (retail $16).  This is an effortless, silky little Pacific Northwest white.  There is definitely no mistaking that is is 85% Pinot Gris, and the remaining 15% Riesling is artfully blended and adds just a touch more aromatics to the wine as a whole.  Oregon Pinot Gris has always been a popular category for us, and stylistically this wine offers just a touch more uniqueness than your typical one.  In my mind this makes it a winner.  It’s nose is pure and clean, with aromas of white peaches, apricots, honeysuckle, green apples, pears and a touch of tropical fruit.  The mouthfeel is equal parts soft, textural and tautly acidic.  Finishes with a zip.  I would love to see anyone try to have just one glass of this. This wine is made by a co-operative of well-established Pacific Northwest winemakers who combined forces (Thundercats style) to make the best wine they could at the most reasonable cost.  They succeeded admirably.

Next up is a new installment of what I like to call Crack Juice:

photo 2 (17)

 

Crack Juice is a technical term for a white wine that is ideal for warm (and scorchingly hot) weather.  It must meet certain criteria, the top two being 1.) it must be thirst-quenching and 2.) it must be easy on the wallet, since we have such long, hot summers here.  Survey says?  This wine is showing signs of being the number one Crack Juice of Summer 2013.

So what is it?  Montgravet Colombard, 2011 France, Cotes de Gascogne (retails for a ridiculous $10).  What is Colombard?  Well, I’ll tell ya- all you really need to know is that it’s good- BUT, it is a genetic relative of Chenin Blanc, and to me, drinks much like a less-grapefruity Sauvignon Blanc.  It ripens early and is popular in California for inexpensive white blends.  The Cotes de Gascogne region of South West France is considered the place for Colombards of excellent expression, character and VALUE!  This wine is delightfully crisp and clean.  Beautiful fruit leaps out- especially vibrant notes of nectarines, a little pineapple, a nice hint of spring flowers; topped off with a slight bite of citrus zest on the finish.  This wine hits the nail on the head for a value wine- it does one thing, and does it well.  Crisp, pretty, refreshing.  Done!  $10.  Love it.

Finally is a fun little Portugese wine: Serrado Encruzado/Malvasia/Verdelho, 2011 Portugal (retail $12).

serradoThis is a funny little favorite of mine- a blend of Encruzado, Malvasia and Verdelho from the Dao region of Portugal.  Definitely not grapes you’ll see all over the Piggly Wiggly, but they are fairly common for this part of Portugal.  I like this wine because it offers a bit more body while still hanging on to plenty of nice citrus and zestiness.  It will definitely appeal to someone who likes Albarino; the viscosity and fruit content are similar, but this wine conveniently comes in a couple dollars less than your typical Albarino- and it’s fantastic!  Encruzado on it’s own can, to me, be a little oily.  But blended as in this case, that little touch of slickness makes the overall package very appealing.  It has a nice golden color, with a big nose of lemon zest with hints of honeydew melon and cantaloupe to follow.  There’s a nice richness in here- a bit of golden raisin?  I think so, but it’s hard to nail down.  Basically I just think this is a way cool wine, a great value, and I love to see weird grapes being embraced by the general public.  Come try!

Next week will likely be devoted to Rose, as we are supposed to have a Rose arriving that is so good, it will make you melt.  I will speak no more of it until then, but gird your loins, as this one is practically life-altering.  No joke.  No exaggeration.  Happy Spring and happy drinking!!