Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2011 Morillon Blanc Wine Review

Botrytised is the word of the day on this Wine Wednesday. Botrytised grapes are wine grapes affected by a grey fungus known as “grey rot”. The fungus grows in wet humid conditions and in some cases it can destroy crops.  When the humid conditions are followed by drier cooler weather conditions it can cause the grapes to become partially shriveled or raisined. When picked at a certain time during infestation, the grapes can result in particularly concentrated and intense wines most often sweet dessert wines like Sauternes. In desirable situations like this, the condition has come to be referred to as “noble rot”.

The 2011 Morillon Blanc unlike the typical wines affected by botrytised grapes is a dry wine. This wine comes to us from winemaker Jeff Carrel who doesn’t have a vineyard or a winery.  He buys small parcels of grapes, those for this wine from a special parcel in the Languedoc region in the south of France known as “garde miel” (honey pot) then rents cellar space and make his wines.

This wine is 100% Morillon (another name for Chardonnay) though I find this to be unlike any other Chardonnay I’ve had before. The color, indicative of being made from botrytised grapes, is a deep intense golden color. The nose struck me like aromatherapy, stimulating the senses with floral notes as well as honey, melon and spicy pear. The wine starts slightly sweet on the tongue followed by a silky round mouth feel then a juicy delightful acidity as you swallow followed by a long finish with lingering notes on the top of your palate of toffee and caramel. The evolution in the tasting of this wine was really quite exciting – what an adventure! Each time I went back new notes seemed to present themselves.

Because of the nature of this wine, though it is a white wine, I would consider it a full-bodied wine.  Try with strong cheeses and creamy pasta dishes like my Prosciutto Pasta Roulade or Scallops with Fettuccine Alfredo. To print or save the recipe pairing suggestions, click the links below.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Domaine de la Fruitière Muscadet Sèvre & Maine sur lie “Gneiss de Bel Abord” - 2014 Wine Review

Sur Lie, French for “on lees” is something I learned more about because of this week’s Wine Wednesday feature the 2014 Domaine de la Fruitière Muscadet Sèvre & Maine sur lie “Gneiss de Bel Abord”. I’ve been exploring Muscadet and it was the mouthfeel of this one that stood out, For a light bodied wine, it had a noticeably round, silky, more viscous mouthfeel than others I’ve had -  giving it more structure and making it quite pleasing. Aging sur lie is quite common with Muscadet, but it was this particular Muscadet that caused me to take notice.

In winemaking, sur lie means that the wine is aged on its lees (grape or yeast). In this case, the lees are yeast particles that settle to the bottom of the vat.  During this process the yeast particles break down releasing sugars and proteins that interact with the wine chemistry. This can enhance the structure as well as the aromas and flavors of the wine. This wine, was aged on the lees or “sur lie” for 5 months.

From the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Appellation (between the Sèvre and Maine rivers) in the Loire Valley of France, the wine is 100% Melon de Bourgogne.  On the nose -  slightly floral (orange blossom)  salinity and minerality.  On the palate, silky giving way to a crisp acidity with a lingering finish. We enjoyed this with Pan Sautéed Halibut seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and paprika over a wild rice medley and a side of grilled asparagus. Enjoy as an aperitif and with a Grilled shrimp cocktail or with Clams alla Puttanesca. To print or save the recipe pairing suggestions, click the links below.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fragile Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes Rosé - 2014 Wine Review

Fragile? My eye! This week’s Wine Wednesday feature the 2014 Fragile Rosé Vin de Pays (Vin de Pays is a step in the French wine classification above table wine) des Cotes Catalanes (Languedoc-Roussillian region of Southern France) reminds me that looks can be deceiving. Of course, by the name and pretty pink color (the hue that lines a prize sea shell found when combing a secluded beach), I was expecting something light, delicate and refreshing.

First off, it took me a minute to ponder just how to open it.  I loved the fact that I could see the cork and the text on it through the bottle - fun.  At first I thought it may be a zork closure, but that quickly proved incorrect.  So, what else could I do, I started in with the corkscrew through the black plastic cap.  As it went in, the black cracked and fell away from the bottle – perhaps that’s the fragile part in all of this.

I had chilled this blend ( predominantly Grenache with a little Syrah and Carignan) as is preferred with rosè,  and swirled at first with little hint of anything on the nose.  After a little time there was a nice salinity (or was it just me thinking about sea shells) and subtle watermelon as well as strawberry, but the strawberries were how they smell just after picking, where the scent of the soil and the vines are still present. The salinity is likely due to the sea breezes from the Mediterranean coast and not just my imagination.

On the palate, fruit forward and slightly sweet on the tip of the tongue giving way to a crisp acidic and mineral finish. The finish was moderate in length but then I felt that warmth, you know the kind you get from a big red wine, the kind that usually accompanies a wine with high alcohol content. This caused me to check the label. 15.3% alcohol by volume.  Wow, not what I’m used to in  rosé. This one could sneak up on you.  The wine could benefit from decanting and once allowed to open up, as expected, it became more aromatic.

I usually would suggest a rosè as an apéritif or with lighter fare, but the alcohol content here prescribes something a little bolder.  An exception may be Garden Fresh Guacamole. The fatty avocado could be a lovely contrast. Try also with Pan Fried Pork Chops with Chismol or Pimento Cheese Mac ‘n Cheese. To print or save the recipe pairing suggestions, click the links below.