Archive for the ‘ French ’ Category

Viognier!

It’s been a rough week. Problems at work, 45 miles on the bike this week (as well as many other issues). I’m hurting emotionally and physically. It’s the perfect time for a surreal wine experience. A taste sensation, if you will.

So, I hit up Binny’s and talked to my main man there (and by main man, I mean the guy I’ve talked to a few times in the last year). Pouilly Fumes and Viognier are his recs for non-Sancerre Sauv, and other-white picks. It was 60, sunny, and breezy today. I’m craving spring. I want flowers in my mouth, I want them in my nose, and I want fruit.

The Pouilly sucked. Not even worth mentioning. 75? Baby diapers and florals, medium to medium-low body, and nothing I wanted at all. I think the funk I’m looking for can only be found in a German Gewuerz. Fine, I’m okay with that.

But alas, the 2009 Viognier. Apple juice on the nose. Totally Mott up front. This is the first viognier I’ve ever had, so I didn’t know what to think. “This is cool, maybe this is incredibly juicy? Maybe this is incredibly sugary?” It didn’t smell sugary, so I dove in. I swished, I swirled, I sampled, I spit, I waited, I sampled again. The nose: Apple juice at its strongest. The mouth feel: medium-big. Green apple. Like you bit into a cantaloupe but instead of cantaloupe flavor you received Granny Smith apple. This is exactly how I described it to my partner in crime, Ryan. The finish is overly acidic and the alcohol bleeds through (though halfway through the bottle one will be so satisfied with the taste that this will make little difference). I will rate this lower than Parker at a solid 88. Don’t think that just because I’m rating this lower that you shouldn’t drink it. That is not the intention at all. This is good, but I just want you to know that I expect that there is much more complexity to be found somewhere in this grape.

Mmm, And!! To the foodies out there, try deglazing a white meat with this wine. In fact, cook the meat in the wine a bit as well. Succulent! I had a Pork Tenderloin cooked in this for about the last ten minutes, then I deglazed the pan with it as well. The sauce was thick and brown and perfect for the meat (as well as the bread). Lemon zest, garlic salt, butter, dalmatian rubbed sage, and olive oil were used to cook the pork, by the way.

Domaine Les Grands Bois
Côtes du Rhône AOC
2009 Viognier
$13 at Binny’s

New Year–Toss out recap

So it’s been about a year since I’ve moved into my apartment, and my roommate and I were doing some spring cleaning last week. I have a penchant for saving my favorite bottles of wine, and I decided to clear them out for a new year.  These were my favorite selections from last year:

Some of these wines have been blogged about, but those that haven’t will get a bit of mention here.  First: the Groth 2007 was shit. And it won’t ever be anything but shit.  There’s no hint of complexity.  It’s easy to drink, and you can fool your unfamiliar friends with it, but you may as well add jello mix to some Mondavi and sell it as the same product.

Standouts: Whitehaven (any vintage, really… 2007, 2008, 2009 have all been fantastic), both of the Chateauneufs were fantastically complex and savory, the 2005 Grand Traverse was out of control and so expressive that there aren’t words to describe it.  The Sauternes was great, as far as young ones are concerned. The Cab Franc was titillating. Stags’ Leap was as expected: bold, full, and a complex enough to please a daily palette–the Stag’s Artemis, while on the subject, is also worth the dough.

Mediocre: The Muga and Jordan were not up to par. Perhaps more time was required. The Barbaresco was not worth the $35 that it was.  At best, $20. I think 85-87.

The surprise of the batch was the Davis Bynum.  For the price point, it’s 100% worth it. 90-91? I remember that being a standout.

Savage, at least in principle.

Well, it seems tonight is going to be a two-for.

As I apparently find myself continually crossing things like “flour”, “meat” and “sanitary drinking water” off my grocery list in place of wines I’ve always wanted to try, I’m currently sitting in my apartment with my very first bottle of Sancerre (one of the mainstays of the Loire Valley in France, and pretty much THE prime example of how the French feel sauvignon blanc should be made) and a bowl of boiled water with some ketchup in it for dinner.

Having had many different sauvignon blancs from around the world (mostly New Zealand, with a few Napa and Chilean sauv’s thrown in) I’ve seen everything from the “isn’t this chardonnay? It’s not, oh well let’s keep aging it in oak because well, that’s what we do with white wine here in California” to the passion-fruit-bomb-with-a-side-of-lawn examples coming out of the southern hemisphere.

This sauv, however, immediately strikes me as being a great example of what the word “sauvignon” originally meant, or at least where it originally came from: savage. This 2009 Domaine Daulny Etienne from the Loire is loaded with gunflint, and grass on the nose, with just the faintest hint of something I can only describe as the way a pumpkin smells when you first cut into it on halloween. Hauntingly high in acidity and tremendously dry, the mouthfeel of this wine is light and sharp, with the classic gooseberry, grass, gunflint and lime coming through after a few sips. The French, it seems, are doing with sauvignon blanc what they do best with all their wines; namely creating something that is by no means in your face or overbearing, but more a complex and subtle expression of the soil in which the grapes came from, and the climate of that year.

This particular Sancerre is fermented and aged entirely in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, from grapes that come from several of the 50 acres that Etienne Daulny owns throughout the eastern Loire valley.

With a plain loaf of bread and a soft but yet still bitter goat’s cheese this region is also known for, the savage can be tamed into a delightfully refreshing and simple experience without having to pad the walls of your living room.