Food Porn Friday! Loiregon Dinner at SE Wine Collective

Yes, yes, its been a hot second since I last posted. Let me tell you a one word answer for why this is:

SUMMER. 

Like a child who just got out of school, I have been suffering (although it really doesn’t feel like suffering) from extreme lack of desire to focus or even be inside. Summers in South Carolina were so hot, long and brutal that I confess to never really enjoying them. But this?! THIS Summer is the real deal. IT STAYS LIGHT UNTIL 10:00, y’all! And I have a sweet front porch. And a garden. So yes- my love for writing is real. But sometimes I just. don’t. wanna. And to be honest, I can’t really apologize for that. It’s summer!

But I’m breaking the spell today and I hope you’re ready for a truly gratuitous food porn edition. I’ve been thinking about the food from last week’s Vive Loiregon! Dinner at the SE Wine Collective a lot. There were several items that left quite an impression. Couple that with another meal I had there about two weeks prior, and I gotta tellya- Chef Althea is the real deal. I love her style; non-fussy but precisely composed and thought-out. That tiny kitchen is churnin’ out some really fantastic eats. I’ve always liked small kitchens.

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First a little background on the Loiregon Dinner, because it was such a fun and inventive way to bring food and wine together: the dinner featured four wines that were all sourced from the Quady North Vineyard in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. Herb Quady was even there!

This guy.

This guy.

I had a brief fangirl moment, since I have been crushing on Herb’s rosé for months. But I kept it together.

But back to the dinner! All four wines were sourced from Herb’s Quady North vineyard. All wines were “Loirecentric” (I made that word up) and three out of the four were made from all Cabernet Franc. By Loirecentric, I mean that all four wines were made as a sort of ode to France’s Loire Valley.

We started with the Jackalope Whité, 2014. Whité, you ask? Well, ya see… this wine was originally supposed to be a rosé. But is any wine really “supposed” to be anything? This wine just wasn’t having it and didn’t retain any pigment. Hence, it has been dubbed Whité, which I think makes for a fantastic story and I respect the wine’s tenacity to be what it wanted. The Whité was served with some passed appetizers:

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I looooved this one: mussels with sauce vert and a potato crisp. The little crunch you got alongside the mussel was perfection.

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Pork Rillettes on crostini with picked cherries– likewise, the pickled cherries were fantastic. They maintained their sweetness, but something pickled always sets off a fat-rich item like pork rillettes.

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We then moved outside, where it was as picturesque a Portland night as you can imagine. About four days later, the heat set in. Oye. The first wine served was one I had also tried and loved not so long ago at the PDX Urban Wine Experience- the Division-Villages “Béton” Cabernet Franc/Gamay, 2014. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: this red is absolutely ideal for serving with a slight chill on a warm night. Aged in concrete, the mineral notes really pop alongside its bright, tangy fruit content. The Gamay grapes for this wine were fermented carbonically, and when that meets the slatey smokiness of the Cab Franc- tres magnifique!

Plus, the label? The best.

Plus, the label? The best.

Served with the Béton was one of my favorite things to pair with wine: tartare! This was Full Circle bison tartare with smoked egg yolk (wicked cool, and cool lookin’), morels and a semolina cracker:

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So dainty.

Raw meat is a fun thing to pair with wine, and this wine in particular. The mineral content is nicely offset by the raw meat. The iron/blood (sounds gross, tastes great) goes well with a mineral-driven red. No lie.

Next we had Leah Jorgenson’s “Loiregon” Cabernet Franc, 2013– another wine I have had and loved before- with a beautiful chilled zucchini, nasturtium leaf & pistachio soup topped with Oregon Olive Mill olive oil:

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Leah’s wine was one of my first Southern Oregon Cab Francs that I tried back in December or January. It packs an awesome punch of gunsmoke, sweet blackberries, plums and hints of something floral- hibiscus, I believe someone mentioned at the dinner. I had to confess to those around me that back on the east coast, word on Southern Oregon hasn’t really spread. Before I moved out here, I pretty much thought Oregon stopped at the Rogue Valley (d’oh).

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If anyone could and should spread the Southern Oregon love to the other coast, its these folks. You heard it here.

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We finished with a grilled flat iron steak, crispy smoked new potatoes, caper & green olive aioli, baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette and chives. To drink? Quady North Mae’s Vineyard Cabernet Franc, 2011. This is a richly scented red, with well-woven notes of chocolate, sweet red pepper, cedar and briary goodness.

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Oh! One more thing: Pholia Family Farms Hillis Peak Goat Cheese with strawberry coulis, pickled green strawberry, brown sugar & cracked pepper walnuts. And a wee sip of the just disgorged (literally, Tom disappeared, came back with a wet shirt and announced “its been disgorged) Division Crémant de Portland, 2013. I’ve had a few versions of this wine- first in December when it had just been bottled, again in February, and then this one which had hung out on the lees much longer. It offered a more honeyed palate, more developed and settled into itself. Pretty durn good.

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This was a freaking great dinner. Completely non-pretentious. At the beginning, Herb waxed poetic about the idea of a “winemaker dinner” versus “dinner with the winemakers.” I really think this concept was captured; no one preached, no one made “sales-y” pushes, no one talked about scores. It was just about enjoying the company, the food and the wine as one experience.

Side note- I do apologize- I took pictures of Kate, Tom, Corey and Leah as well, but they all came out just dreadfully. I can’t bring myself to include them. The “mid-sentence facial twist” just isn’t a good look for anyone.

Oh, and last but not least, this guy was also an excellent dinner companion:

Cassidy. Good boy.

Cassidy. Good boy.

Many thanks to all involved for such a wonderful evening!

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Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, day 26: Belle Oiseau! Belle Waz-what?

Behold, one of my favorite Oregon whites, the Belle Pente Belle Oiseau, 2011! 

Belle Oiseau means "Pretty Bird".

Belle Oiseau means “Pretty Bird.” Also, Belle Waz-Oh. 

As it turns out, this wine is beloved by many Oregonians. And with due reason. Winemaker Brian O’Donnell developed this wine for Portland’s Le Pigeon and its little sister restaurant, Little Bird, with the help of General Manager/Partner Andy Fortgang. Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro are currently taking two out of my top five spots for drool-worthy Instagram feeds here in Portland, by the way. I seriously can’t wait to go to either one. Sometimes they Instagram their staff meals, too. I might just show up sometime roughly when I suppose a staff meal would take place.

I’m sure they’d love that.

I mean, seriously. I can't even. How good would this wine be with this?!

I mean, seriously. I can’t even. How good would this wine be with this?!

In any case, this wine was developed as an ode to an Alsatian “Edelzwicker”, a blend of “Noble” varietals. Historically, the grapes would all come from the same parcel, and could even be co-fermented. The 2011 vintage is a blend of mostly Pinot Gris and Riesling, with a bit of Muscat. I’ve had it on a few occasions, but this is the first bottle I’ve purchased for just me. And let me tell you. The more time I spend with this bottle, the more enamored I am with it. On a given Tuesday, I could open a bottle, drink a glass, then say to myself- ok, later for that. But this is the kind of wine where I find myself sneaking another half a glass… then another. Its like an old friend. You can keep coming back to it, and every time you do you’re reminded how much you like it.

A very dry wine with just a touch of RS, it drinks like a lean, clean little machine. Delicate and precise, is has defined stone fruit and white floral characteristics, with soft lemon and golden apple in the background. Sharp enough to cut through something fatty (this wine was developed specifically with charcuterie in mind), yet would be great with light, fresh fare (oysters, anyone?) as well. The finish is lifted with some higher aromatics of jasmine and fresh laundry.

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Of course I’ve already declared my clear personal bias for Belle Pente, but this really is one of my favorite Oregon whites. Originally, this wine was restaurant-only, and sold in keg form. I read in one article that it sold for $8 a glass and $20 for a half-lifer carafe- which is RIDIC- in a perfect way. So well-priced. I would love to share a carafe of this wine, bistro-style, for $20. It sounds too good to be true to me. In any case, this wine in bottle form sells for $18. I purchased it at the winery, and honestly I don’t know if any retailers carry it. They very well could, I just don’t know personally. If you’re local, I of course suggest bringing yourself down to Carlton to buy some at the winery. If you’re not, you’ll have to get a plane ticket. But its cool, you’ll be happy you did.

Gah! I know I’m a day behind right now, but I’m trying my best to wrap up the Thirty Grapes project in the best way possible. Seriously, I’m TRYING. Cheers!

 

André Vatan “Les Charmes” Sancerre, 11 France and an ode to the half bottle…

So, I dig half bottles.

Always have, but now that I’m no longer working in a restaurant where I have access to 30 open bottles of wine at all times, I like them even more. I wouldn’t call myself indecisive, but I have always enjoyed options. I’m that person that when I go out to eat, would rather have two (three?) appetizers than one entrée. Don’t bother going out to dinner with me if you’re not a sharer. I’m usually a sharer, but when I’m not I will always be up front about it. “I’m getting THIS and I’m not sharing.” I have uttered those words. It only happens when I’m ordering something I reeeeally like, that I’ve had before, and know in advance that I will have pre-item arrival anxiety if I don’t get enough.

Trips to Vegas and beef carpaccio are flashing before my eyes. Todd English… I love you.

But, moving on from my dining habits, lets talk about drinking habits, and why it’s so fun to incorporate half bottles. And once place in particular that I’ve begun frequenting that has a marvelous selection of half bottles. Feast your eyes:

Such excitement over this.

Such excitement over this.

So Valley Wine Merchants is a cool little retail wine shop in Newberg, Oregon where you can find this marvelous wall of 375ml bottles. There are also a few select glass pours available (today there was an Albert Boxler Sylvaner and an 07 Beaux Fréres- WUT?!- among others) and some snacks and such. A very cool spot. It reminds me of my alma mater, Cellar on Greene, except without the restaurant. The owner, Andrew, is very knowledgeable and has been a good resource for me since I landed. He hosted an awesome tasting with Dick Ponzi a few weeks ago where he opened an ’85 and ’86 Ponzi Pinot Noir for a seriously modest cost. Loved it. Props!

So the wine! Domaine André Vatan “Les Charmes” Sancerrre; I bought this because I had a dozen of the freshest Kumumoto oysters ever in my car, and wanted a little something to go with them. These little suckers were amazing. Also, I learned how to shuck an oyster today. A skill I anticipate using quite often now that I live in the Pacific Northwest…

Briney. Amazing.

Briney. Amazing.

I like trying new things, and this is a new producer to me, but I love Sancerre. Sauvignon Blanc is at its best in the Loire, in my humble opinion. At $16 retail this is definitely a bottle I’d buy again. The nose is a nice combination of gooseberry alongside fresh flowers, lime zest, and a nice smokey edge. Tingly on the tastebuds, and plenty of striking minerality. I get a hint of something spicy in here, too… like almost a chile pepper, but not quite. Plus a little bit of grass and honeysuckle. It has a nice texture; the mouthfeel is soft and elegant. It was really nice with the oysters- I might’ve liked something a bit more saline in this scenario, but overall a pretty nice match. The green hints went really nicely with the mignonette I threw together. What? It’s like 4 ingredients!

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I feel like I’ve crossed over into snobbery, with the oysters and the mignonette and all, but I couldn’t help myself. I mean I kinda wanted the $40-ish bottle of Albert Boxler Pinot Blanc, but I held back! That counts for something.

Here’s another cute half bottle, the EIEIO “Swine Wine” Rie-Chard in Piglet (375ml) form. I love this little bottle…

Piglet.

Piglet.

So I’ve gotten a little wordy here, but the point is- half bottles are a super fun way to get to drink more than one kind of wine in a night. I also use them as an excuse to splurge; I might not want to spend $45 on that 750ml bottle of small-production grower’s Champagne, but somehow $30 on the half bottle feels okay. Why? I don’t really know. That’s another point to make: half-bottles are not “half” as expensive to produce, so don’t harass your wine retailer as to why the half bottle isn’t half as expensive. It’s not really like that. The cork/enclosure, seal, labels, bottle, etc. don’t cost half as much, they cost the same. So you’re really paying for the fun-ness, and that’s your call completely. But you’re not getting ripped off on the price, trust me. Maybe some retailers undercut their margins on halfsies to get them to move, and thats their prerogative. Just don’t be mean to the person selling you your wine, cause that ain’t cool. Just pick someone you like and trust them.

Thats my philosophy, anyway. Cheers!

Time for one more Rosé! Raffault Chinon Rosé, 13 France

It’s. Still. Summer. Yeesh. 

This is the time of year when I notice that our Rosé sales, which are steady all Summer, tend to dip off. My personal belief for this? People are just so over the heat that they drink beer. I know I do. As much as I love a refreshing glass of white wine or Rosé, when its 100 degrees and 100% humidity, the simplicity of an ice cold beer is sometimes all I can handle. So here’s a reminder that there’s STILL TIME to enjoy a Rosé!

Anyway! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s called SEPTEMBER! It’ll be here in NINE DAYS! And even though September is still pretty hot, it never feels as bad, mentally, as August. Because we’re almost there.

Side note- I realized the other day that I haven’t written about a red wine since March- eep! I tried to come up with one to write about, but I just can’t. It’s too hot. So I’m going with one more Rosé to finish up the Summer series. And it’s a good one!

photo 1 (15)Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rosé is a sturdier Rosé, built for a somewhat serious Rosé drinker. Remember my BFF, the Charles Bove Vouvray? This wine comes from the Loire Valley too, but from an AOC a little Southwest of Vouvray called Chinon. Chinon is known for its Cabernet Franc, which is what this Rosé is made from. This area is steeply elevated and has rocky soil. Reds from Chinon are also a favorite of mine, although they sometimes require one to enjoy a bit of austerity and tannin.

This Rosé is dear to my heart because, as I mentioned before, it has a nice weight and sturdiness to it. It isn’t frivolous, and though it would make a nice mid-day quaffer like almost all Rosés do, it can be taken seriously enough to pair with dinner. Excellent food wine. Charcuterie, herbed goat cheese, a light chicken or quail preparation would all be stellar. photo 2 (15)

When this wine reaches close to room temperature is actually when its aromatics really pop! Too cold, it will certainly refresh, but might not reveal all its lovely flavor components. Tremendous care is taken in the production of this Rosé to preserve all the vivacious fruit and delicate spice. Redcurrant, strawberry, a little bit of cherry and pomegranate are accentuated by a hint of orange peel, Asian five spice and fresh red flowers. Excellent minerality and a taut, bitey finish. I don’t think bitey is actually a word, but this wine bites a little, so therefore bitey seems appropriate. The finish lasts an awfully long time for a reasonably priced wine!

Speaking of- you’ll be glad to know that this wine is an awesome $15 to take home! And you can try it at tomorrow’s (August 23rd) WINE SALE from 12-2! There will be, as always, discounted prices, smiling faces and air conditioning. Do you have a better way to spend your Saturday morning? I didn’t think so.

I’m heading up to DC next weekend to attend Epicurience Virginia with this guy:

How could you not love this guy.

How could you not love this guy.

I hope to return with tales of all the awesome wine that is being made in Virginia- and no, that’s not tongue-in-cheek; there really is awesome wine being made in Virginia. Until then, happy drinking and see you at the sale tomorrow!

 

 

 

“I’m. So. Fancy.” Charles Bove Vouvray, 13 France

Doesn’t this bottle just look fancy?

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You already know.

Who doesn’t like to feel a little fancy? Especially when on a “weeknight” budget?

Let me begin by saying that this is one of those wines that I’m bordering on a little unhealthily obsessed with. It’s all I want. Every time I re-taste it, I am once again struck by its brilliance and I usually let out some kind of involuntary exclamation of joy. I can see where this may be an odd sight, but I really can’t help it. It’s just. So. Good.

So what’s in this wine? What is a Vouvray? It’s not too hard to remember, but it still might fall into the unrecognized category- Vouvray is a region in the Loire Valley of France, which is roughly located in Central France. And Vouvray is roughly in the center of the Loire. See here if you want to get more techy about it:

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This is actually a great map.

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But more importantly, what is IN a Vouvray? Chenin Blanc. One of my ALL-TIME favorite grapes EVER. Chenin seems to have the adoration of many wine nerds, and with good reason. They’re incredibly versatile, and while the Loire is considered the “true” home of Chenin Blanc, I’m also often mucho impressed with South African versions. So the Vouvray region produces a lot of sparkling wine (sparkling Chenin- also a YES), but the still versions are freakin’ awesome too. They are made in a wide variety of styles ranging from dry to sorta-sweet to dessert-sweet. All are fantastic. Chenin is naturally very high in acidity, so even the sweet versions never feel syrupy. And they have, arguably, some of the best ageability in the world.

But anyway, WHY do I adore this particular one and what does it taste like? First, the nose. Oh! The nose. Honeysuckle, lime zest, nectarines, quince, maybe a touch of candied ginger, fresh flowers, clean sheets and a vague nutty afterthought. The palate is all about lightening-like acidity. It will cut through anything. You get a nice tangy pop of green apple and lime as you sip. With the intensely fragrant nose, you might expect this wine to be sweeter; and while it does have (as far as I can tell) a bit of residual sugar, the acid is really what stands out here. The finish is a bit chalky, which just leaves me wanting more.

This wine is imported by Vintage 59 Imports, who are no strangers to good French wine.

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So now that you know that you need this wine, let’s go back to the title of this post: “I’m. So. Fancy.” Have you heard this song? This is one of those pop culture phenomenons that I happened to catch after listening to the radio a lot while painting my bathroom last weekend. I heard it about 1,000 times. Normally I might’ve missed it altogether, since I’m in my 30’s and therefore extremely uncool (not). I’m still not sure whether it’s cool to like this song or not, but I will say that it stays in my head for hours at a time. And when I heard it, I thought of this wine. Because it’s fancy.

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Just watched the video this morning. It has some distinct Clueless references, although I doubt its target audience has ever seen Clueless (how sad it that?). Did any one actually GO to high school with girls that looked like this? I kinda doubt it. After a bit of Googling, it seems like this poor girl is getting ripped by online commenters, disgracing her “rapping” abilities. Mind you, I never said I liked this song. Just that it gets stuck in my head. And isn’t that all it takes to be considered a successful pop phenomenon?

So when’s a good time to come try the Charles Bove? TOMORROW! July 12th. 12-2pm. At the Wine Sale! We actually sold out of this wine at the sale 2 weeks ago. It’s that good! It retails for $17, but there’ll be a discount at the sale tomorrow. Truthfully? I think I’d pay $22 for this wine. Dollar for dollar, it’s an absolutely insane value.

YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT!

new wines for Friday that are Fabulous and Fun!

It’s FRIDAY, and that means it’s high time we chatted about some new juice.  Well, technically any day of the week is perfect for that, but today’s the day.  These three puppies are really, truly fantastic and individualistic.  They truly each deserve a post of their own, but multi-wine posts are a little easier to pull off on a Friday afternoon.  So let’s take a peek…

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A total of five grapes and three countries!  One grape of which you probably have never heard of.  One brand-new to SC Pinot Noir.  And one freaking excellent Malbec blend from a forgotten place for Malbec- France!  Eeek, what fun!

First up is one of my favorite finds of the last few weeks: Cederberg Bukettraube, 2012 South Africa:

Buke-what?  Buke-who?

Buke-what? Buke-who?

When I first met this wine, I knew we would be fast friends.  I’m widely known as a weird white wine nerd, so it wasn’t exactly a shock that I took a liking to this one.  However, just cause you weird, don’t mean you good- but this one is!  To me, when I first smelled it, it reminded me of a really pretty Vouvray.  Which, when you consider that South Africa does really well with Chenin Blanc, isn’t too far of a stretch.  However, this Bukettraube (buke–rhymes with nuke–uh-traube) is not related to Chenin, as far as I could Google.  Apparently it is a grape of German origin.  It is a cross of Silvaner and Schiavia.  Not much else to be found on this one, but you shouldn’t be phased by that.  There’s only so much background info we really need.  What we do need to know is how incredibly TASTY it is!

An incredibly aromatic wine, it bursts with smells that are similar to a Muscat; ripe apricot, lychee, rose petals, peaches and prickly pineapple.  Nice floral accents set it off, the mouthfeel is soft and plush but not overbearing, and the finish clenches with a nice pop of citrus zest.  Truly a gorgeous and unique wine.  Who will like it?  Well, probably other white wine nerds like me.  But if you like Riesling, Chenin Blanc or even a Sauvignon Blanc (minus a little citrus), you will want to give this one a try.  It would be to DIE with spicy cuisine.  The 2010 vintage of this wine got a little press; 90 Points form Steven Tanzer and 89 points from Wine Enthusiast.  I’d not be shocked if this one earned itself a rating, too, so keep your eyes peeled.  Or don’t, if you don’t care.  This wine is a ridiculous value at $13 retail!

What’s next?  A personal fave.  Omero Cellars Pinot Noir, 2011 Willamette Valley, Oregon.  I actually had this wine prior to my trip to Oregon in June and was quite tickled by it.  My appreciation grew after the trip, where I tasted approximately 10,000 (okay, slight exaggeration) Oregon Pinot Noirs.  We just picked up this wine as a by-the-glass pour last week (hat tip- only the second account in SC to do such…).

serious Oregon juice.

serious Oregon juice.

So why do I like this particular one?  Well, an Oregon Pinot that is artfully made tends to really stand out.  When that wine offers what I perceive to be a great value, they stand out even more.  This is the first distribution vintage for this winery; they are very small and only 1500 cases of this 2011 were made.  It’s everything Oregon Pinot Noir should be: bright acidity, a nice mix of ripe red fruit on the forefront, followed by some sour cherry, pomegranate, wild strawberry and raspberry.  There is a nice softness and a flowery suggestion in the finish, and a touch of mild vanilla.  This wine tastes freaking phenomenal the second day after opening!  In and of itself, this is an indicator that this wine is a great candidate for a bit of time in the Cellar.  For a cooler vintage like 2011, this is a great quality for a wine to have.  The winemakers are pretty legit, making it their goal to express the true nature of Willamette’s climate and soil.  Their winery is located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA of Willamette, which is where the majority of this fruit is sourced.  This wine is currently available for tasting purposes and as a glass pour!  It’s retail cost is a modest $24.  (Side note: their single Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir is exemplary, too).  You will not find this on any other wine list in Columbia- BOO-YAH!

What’s the last thing on my mind today?  A little Frenchie!  From one of my favorite regions in France, Cahors.  Cahors is relatively close to the Bordeaux region.  Malbec is a grape that is considered a true Bordeaux varietal, but it is often seen in Cahors as a single varietal, or in this case used in a cool blend of 80% Malbec with a splash of Merlot and Tannat:

mmmmmm.

mmmmmm.

Chateau de Gaudou, 2011 retails for a sweet $15.  It is as close to a perfect house French red as you could find.  In my mind, approach this wine as 1.) a great value French red and then 2.) as a Malbec.  It will not taste like the Argentinian Malbec you had last week.  Sure, there are some definitive grape characteristics that are similar, but they’re treated much differently in each country.  I like both, but I find Cahors Malbecs to have density, color and depth that are quite striking.  A deep purple, almost black color, it has a whopper of a nose of blackberry liqueur, blackcurrant, toasty oak, black cherries, violets, and undertones of roasted sage and thyme.  Some higher notes of red raspberry are found if you search for them, too.  The mouthfeel is smooth with a little bite of tannin that makes it great with food.  Grilled or roasted game.  Maybe a beef or lamb tartare to make the mineral content pop a bit.  It’s quite versatile and great on it’s own.  This wine is also currently a glass pour at Cellar, so should you desire a taste, just stop on in!  Or have a glass with your next dinner!

Thanks for reading and HAPPY DRINKIN!

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’!