Hooray for Vouvray: Why save French for Friday?

I woke up this morning and realized I needed to get a run in before I conquered (translation: show up to) the Twin Cities 10 miler  (Minneapolis run that corresponds to the marathon.)

I didn’t want to run, but I just did it knowing I’d feel better afterward.

You know–sometimes we have that bottle of wine in the fridge or the shelf that’s the same: we are saving it, we just don’t know why.

The Foreau Domaine du Glos Nadin Demi Sec Vouvray (translation: Chenin Blanc from France that borders Champagne) is that wine.photo-88

Originally, I bought this for current roommate, Jill, to go with a cherry-apricot bread pudding with salted caramel sauce dessert.  Upon first sip, I felt jubilant: I WAS RIGHT.  This would have been GREAT with that wine.  On the other hand, I felt sad that we didn’t get to the wine with the dessert.  Small, first-world losses, I know.

I also felt sad because it was slightly sweet upon first sip, too.  I picked it to go with horseradish-beet crusted salmon.  Tasting it with the sauce, however, I felt this was a great pairing to spicy sauces.

The wine: at 13% alcohol content and with a demi-sec label, this wine has great acidity to be a dessert wine, aperitif, or ability to be paired with salty or spicy food.  The viscosity is like velvet silk on the tongue.  On the nose, it had a little apple and honey flavors.  On the palette, it was rich with honey and honeysuckle, mineral, almond and a slight hint of lees (or yeasty) flavors.  The length was long, the acidity medium-high, the pairings: amazing.

This is a great, great, great example of a Vouvray.  Um, hooray for a versatile wine that should appeal to most. I would gladly drink the entire bottle–it is a great example of what a Vouvray should be.  Just open it and enjoy–Nike would be proud of this wine slogan.

4of5

Falling for Riesling

As I walked in the woods today, with a premature autumn note in the air, my thoughts turned to Thoreau.  “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Moments at peace in clean air, ripening leaves, and crispening air are priceless.  And I’ve found that in terms of wine, its price does not need to equal the quintessential arm and a leg pay-to-play fee.  Enter: The Riesling.

The Wine: Peter Jakob Bruhn’s “Jacobus”‘s 2011 Rheingau Riesling Troken is a single vineyard Riesling and it is amazing.  I mentioned I went for the first walk of a burgeoning autumn in Minnesota, and it’s taste is that like a color wheel of fall leaves swept over a golden, green field on the edge of a darkening woods.

On the nose, there is a bit of yeasty brioche, as if a distant cousin of Champagne.  On the palette, there are notes of green and golden apple, with a faint bit of pear and hints of passion fruit.  The acid is high, and it is a crisp, bone dry wine with a medium-long finish and no lingering tartness.  It is complex like the light entering an evening in the autumn woods.

RieslingIf you are a fan of reds when the temps start to drop, you might have another wine to add to the line-up.  This wine pairs nicely with some Italian antipasti and high-acid foods–it will go well with fish or even a day in front of a football game.   At 11.5% in alcohol, it ranks a little higher than other Rieslings, but you can drink this entire bottle AND still make the workout in the morning.

Just be prepared to look at a white wine, and a Riesling, in a new way. Again, in Thoreau’s words, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  You will see a quality wine in a quality Riesling.

An Oenological Ark–Donkey and Goat’s “Stone Crusher”

In Noah’s Ark, a biblical story we’re all familiar with, animals paired with their counterparts to help keep the species going once the flood stopped.  In vino, Donkey and Goat have breached the cross of species and have come up with some unique wines, including the “Stone Crusher.”

SC, for short, is a Roussanne–a white grape from France’s Rhone Valley–but in the interbreeding done by Donkey and Goat, the wine spent 16 days on the skin, resulting in this beautiful, orange (or “unfiltered”) wine.

Stone Crusher -Roussanne

Now, I have had some weeks  (and nights) that have blurred around the edges, and this wine is no exception.  It is not what you expect.  At first sip, I thought I had poured the wrong bottle–it tasted distinctly like cider.  But plunging back nose-first, and adding the obligatory air to the taste, I came up with a wine that was more complex around the edges.  There was definitely apple and pear, but no oak to speak of that one imagines would come with a wine of this color.  Fuller bodied, medium to long finish, this wine had some density I associated with tannins and minerality that off-set it.  It was zesty in the sense that it was bright, but held back slight punch, as if marking a territory all its own.

All that said, it is a good wine, but I couldn’t get past my connotation of cider with the apple sensations.  I would order this wine again–maybe with a little more hearty and savory meal than the chicken  with which I paired it.  This night, I saved some of my training sense and didn’t finish the bottle, but think, like all things blurry, it deserves another chance.  And a good home.  We’ll see in another 40 days and nights if I can give it a second go.

You can find this in Cleveland Park (or on-line).  It is a premium try at $34.99, but definitely cheaper than a plane ticket!

3of5

Did someone say “Working Class?” I’ll drink to that!

Petit Bourgeois 2011

I love Spring. A lot. As a Minnesota girl this season would start to sneak a peak sometime at the end of April, and while we waited for a few flurries to subside, there would always be that one morning you could hear the birds chirp before you actually opened your eyes. It is the untapped current of energy, joy, and happiness in the unfolding of new, unworn air, sky and sun.  It’s like Easter, but without the need to go to church or on a hunt to find your upcoming week’s leftover lunch that will be sans cake.

There are moments of excitement and exuberance when I find that same bright, crisp, clean taste in wine, and today was that day with the Petite Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc.  A direct translation from French doesn’t sound like this wine will be the winner it is, but unscrewing the bottle cap (yes, it’s a screw cap not a cork), the freshness of spring and happiness abounds in a simple 750 ml. You will want to embrace middle-classness if this is what that means.

A clear, pale gold color Monet would be proud of, the Petit Bourgeois gave off clean, crisp green apple, green grape, dewy slate and grass notes on the nose and palate. The acid was refreshingly medium-high with a long lasting, fruity-minerality flavor that was very well balanced. Light and refreshing, you won’t need to miss a workout if you drink this wine, but you might be having too much fun in the lingering light of the season to put it–and yourself away–too early in the evening. Have another glass–this wine will keep your heart rate up with glee! (I’m even giddy WRITING about the wine).

Found in my new favorite wine shop with great staff http://www.crystalcitywineshop.com/, this wine only set me back $14.99 before tax. Viva Crystal City! Viva le Bourgois!
4of5

You say White Burgandy, I say Chardonnay

As a former Press Secretary on Capitol Hill, I often found The Wall Street Journal as my go-to news source.  It had everything I needed to know to tell my boss about the latest in policy, financial news, or breaking events.  Now, I find that the lifestyle section (even sans millionaire status) is a must, and especially the reviews on wine.  How else would I know that Costco carries exceptional finds?  So in a recent article, “The New Master of Affordable White Burgandies,” I found inspiration to head to my local store and try one–or a few–out.

Before I get to the taste testing, I have to rewind a few weeks to the surprise birthday party of my girlfriend, Ellen.  Marcel’s, one of the best French restaurants in DC, was the backdrop and the prelude to the main course featured a crisp, slate-bright, green-fruited white wine that was so well-balanced and acidic, I neglected the red wine present throughout the remainder of dinner.  If diamonds have a liquid equivalent, this was it.  My friend informed me when I asked, “Oh, it’s a white Burgandy.”  Not Chablis. Not Chardonnay.  Simply, a white Burgandy.

As easily as she told me the kind, I thought the style would be as easily indicative of the region.  Therefore, all white Burgandies must be of the same quality.   The $24 reference in WSJ was my beacon of hope–the price didn’t seem unreasonable, and if that was the case, I was bound for Burgandy success.

I picked up a bottle of Macon La Roche Vineuse 2011, and as it poured into the glass, was slightly shocked at the light gold color, reminiscent of California Chardonnays.  The oaky, yellow-apple, and fuller-bodied taste made me take a double take at the label.  It had none of the crisp, refreshing mineral flavor I was looking for–only the flaccid oaky taste of a cheaper, off-brand Chardonnay.  The acid was not there, nor the finish.  This was not what I expected for the $22 mark.

Overall, this was a white Burgandy that disappointed and did not hold true to the region (or I should say my expectation of the region), but I think it hit the mark of what a Chardonnay can be.  Next time, I’ll do a little more research before diving in to this Zone 1 category wine.

White burgandy
1 out of 5