Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2010 Chateau Arnaud Bordeaux Supérieur

Because I tend to have an affinity for blends, it would only seem natural that my curiosity for wine would ultimately gravitate toward Bordeaux – perhaps it should have started there. So for the second week in a row, I'll share a Bordeaux. Bordeaux wines after all, for the most part, are inherently blends either red or white.  Red Bordeaux are generally either predominantly Merlot or predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon.  Those that are predominantly Merlot are considered “right bank” and those predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon are considered “left bank”. 

The main river in Bordeaux is the Gironde.  Two smaller rivers, the Dordogne and the Garonne, feed into it. Together, the rivers are shaped almost like an upside-down Y. If you're standing in Bordeaux facing west, toward the ocean, the "Left Bank" is south of the Garonne and Gironde rivers, and the "Right Bank" is north of the Dordogne and Gironde Rivers. (The area in between is known as Entre-Deux-Mers.)

The left bank vineyards are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and the right by Merlot. It should be mentioned that other varietals that can be added to red Bordeaux wines in addition to Cabermet Sauvigon and Merlot are Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

This week’s Wine Wednesday feature the 2010 Chateau Arnaud Bordeaux Supérieur is an example of a red, right bank Bordeaux, predominantly Merlot (70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc). How can you tell by looking at the bottle if it’s right or left bank?  Well, you sort of need to know the region. On the back of the bottle it indicates this wine is from Saint - Émilion an AOC in the Bordeaux region, which is right bank, thus likely this wine is predominantly Merlot.

On the nose - blackberry, violet and a hint of spice. On the palate, raspberry, moderate tannins (right bank are usually less tannic than left bank Bordeaux wines) and a touch of cocoa on the lingering finish.  We enjoyed this with Jambalaya one night and with Grilled Lamb Chops over Wild Mushroom Couscous and sides of Grilled Marinated Portobello and Asparagus the next. 
To print or save the recipe pairing suggestions click the links below.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2011 Château Haute-La Péreyre

This Wine Wednesday, I chose a Bordeaux. A Bordeaux wine is any wine that is from the Bordeaux region of France which is centered around the city of Bordeaux. A Bordeaux is generally made with a blend of grapes. The red Bordeaux are either predominantly Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2011 Chateau Haut-La Péreyre Bordeaux Superior is a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon; however Bordeaux wines can be a blend of many different varietals.

This one being labeled Bordeaux Superieur simply means that the grapes may be sourced from all over the region and are usually sourced from older, more mature vines.

On the nose, I found this to be highly expressive with notes of dark fruit, violet and subtle hints of forest floor and baking spice. Once the wine was allowed to open up it was very well balanced with moderate tannins and a lingering finish.

We enjoyed this with my Bistro Burgers and I used some in the burgers themselves. It would also be great with a grilled steak - substitute this wine for the burgundy in my Burgundy Mushrooms and serve them along side. To print or save my pairing suggestions, click the links below.

Brittany's Bistro Burger

Grilled New York Strip with Burgundy Mushrooms

Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

La Vidaubanaise Vin de Pays Maures Rosé

Did you ever look at a bottle of wine or a wine on a wine list and avoid it because you didn’t know how to pronounce the name? Well, unless you are fluent in French, at least where your wine vocabulary is concerned, this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the non-vintage La  Vidaubanaise Vin de Pays des Maures Rosé could be one of those.  

So, let’s break it down. La Vidaubanaise (pronounced la Vee doh ban aze) is a wine co-op of independent vineyards that ban together to produce wine – the winemaker. Vin de Pays (pronounced Van duh payee ) translates as "wine of the regions".  Vin de Pays or regional wines are the third rank of French wines. However, that doesn't mean they can't be great wines! Vine de pays Maures (Mohr) - where this wine is from -  is an area outside of the  French AOC approved Provence growing areas, but still inside Provence.

This rosé is a blend of 40% Carignan, 30% Cinsault, 15% Cabernet and 15% Ugni-Blanc. The color,  a beautiful pale pink salmon.  The color is due to the juice having limited contact with the skins of the grapes.

On the nose (do not miss the nose on this one) sweet, very floral (cherry blossom) and strawberry along with subtle minerality.  On the palate, first, pronounced minerality giving way to supple fruit and a dry crisp finish. This is a great summer wine for an outdoor get together with friends. At around $10 a bottle you can invite several friends.

Try with light Mexican fair like Grilled Chicken Tacos or Grilled Squid Tacos with Purple Pineapple Slaw. Add some of my Garden Fresh Guacamole to the mix and you have a real Fiesta!To print or save the recipe pairing suggestions, click the links below:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

2013 Two Arrowheads White Blend

There’s nothing like a Wednesday morning history lesson. How could I have known that when I randomly picked up today’s Wine Wednesday feature it would peak my curiosity and have me googling about in an attempt to solve a puzzle of sorts.  The 2013 Two Arrowheads White Blend is third in a series of wines being vinted and bottled by American Pioneer Wine Growers. Each wine in the series is intended to reveal one part of a mysterious tale - providing a clue that will ultimately help reveal the name of their new winery in Geyersville, CA.  It’s an interesting marketing tool, one that first struck me as a bit far-fetched. Would the consumer really play along?  Well, I guess it worked on me.

The first release was named “The White Doe”,   the second, “Manteo”, the third, today’s feature “Two Arrowheads” and the fourth “The Lost Colony”. What do all of these have in common? Some of you history buffs may know.  Manteo was a Native American Croatan Indian chief that befriended English explorers in the early 1500’s. The expedition of 1587 would include men, women and children in an effort to establish a permanent colony – Roanoke Colony.  As history goes, the colony did not endure and it’s a mystery as to what happened to the 80 men 17 women and 11 children that made up the lost colony over 400 years ago.

So what does all of this have to do with wine?  It’s the American Pioneer Winegrowers way of paying homage to influential people, places and stories that are part of early American wine making.  English explorer Thomas Harriot from the expedition noted a luscious sweet grape growing in the wild. He may have been describing what we in the south have come to know as Muscadine. A 400 year old Scuppernong (Muscadine) “Mother Vine” still exists on Roanoke Island today and a clipping will soon be planted on the estate vineyard of the new Sonoma County winery. I appreciate the symbolic gesture, but it’s not a varietal I am a fan of – at least not for wine making.

So much for the story – now today’s wine. Two Arrowheads is a white blend of 71% Viognier and 29% Roussane. On the nose, wild flower honey, fresh herbs, pear and a hint of baking spice. I’d describe it as a medium bodied wine with a slight silkiness on the lips and tongue.  It has a crisp, clean, yet juicy finish. The acidity on the finish is short but the fruit lingers in a quite delightful way with a subtle bit of butter and vanilla.

Now, as for my guess on the name for the winery (or maybe they want us to name it), I have 3 guesses: Roanoke, Virginia Dare or Croatan.  What are your guesses?  Please feel free to opine!

Pair with Salpicao (Brazilian Chicken Salad) or Grilled Spice Rubbed Chicken Thighs. To print or save the recipe pairing suggestions, click the links below.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

2013 Rob Murray Vineyards Force of Nature Red Blend

“We cannot command nature except by obeying her”. This text which reads like sage advice appears on the back of this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the 2013 Rob Murray Vineyards Force of Nature Red Blend. The label on the bottle is an Armageddon type scene with fiery explosions engulfing a city. It’s what appears to be more like nature’s fury than force.  (Nature’s force can be good at times, right? Maybe in the bottle, fury turns to fortune.  Read on…..)

It got me thinking that growing grapes is like any other type of agriculture where the farmer must deal with what Mother Nature doles out – some years good – others not so much and to a winemaker comes the task of how to treat the grapes your given to arrive at a successful wine. Or in this case, you can just bottle it and blame Mother Nature.

This wine is a blend of 67% Merlot, 11% Cabernet, 11% Syrah and 11% Petite Sirah. When I opened the bottle, upon taking that first sniff, I decided to give it some time.  However, even after about 30 minutes I still wasn’t pleased. After researching this wine for this review, I found the suggestion that it should be decanted for 1 hour.  However when we tried again the next day, it quite honestly didn’t seem to help it – not enough for me anyway. The nose, was sort of confusing – sort of everything at once – bombarding – much like the depiction on the label. When I thought I could sort a few things out I thought I detected, dark fruit, mostly plum, a touch of spice, leather and cedar.  On the palate, I found this wine to be unexpectedly sweet almost sweet like Concord but not with the Concord flavor. Not fruit forward, just sweet. There seemed to be this large gap between that experience and then really bold tannins.  The wine lacked balance. Even after decanting I feel this wine fell short. 

Ironically we opened this on a night when I had decided to doctor up a frozen pizza so I didn’t have any big pairing in mind for it.  The sweetness of the wine, in my opinion makes it difficult to pair with food.  It worked with the pizza, but not well enough to consider a second glass. In this case, the Force of Nature sided on the unfortunate.