November 15, 2007

October 2007 Wine Tasting

The theme is

New World vs. Old World Wines

The Whites:

The first two whites are made from grapes that are closely related to one another - Spain's Albarino and Germany's Riesling. It's believed that Cistercian monks introduced Albarino to Galicia in northwesternmost Spain in the 12th century! Today, this winegrowing area in Spain is known as Rias Baixas; and, it is producing some of the best white wines, and white wine values, in the world!

Gran Vinum Nessa Albariño 2006 (Spain) $12.99 - This is delicious! From a winery, Gran Vinum, that produces superb wines! Wonderful aromas of peaches, pears, citrus, flowers and minerals. Flavors of white peaches, minerals and a wonderful, zippy acidity that has a little saline quality to it! It's medium-bodied and dry. Estate grown grapes. Stainless steel fermentation. Aged 1 month on lees to soften the texture. This is from our favorite Spanish importer, Aurelio Cabestrero. In 1993, he was named the best sommelier in Spain. Food pairing - Great paired with fresh Maine seafood, especially shellfish! Wine & Spirits, 90 points; Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 88 points

Slatestone Dry Riesling 2004 (Germany) $13.99 - This is a great sipping wine! One of our favorite Rieslings! Loads of peach, nectarine and white orchard fruit aromas and flavors. Excellent minerality and acidity in the wine - the vines grow right in slate! This is a dry, refreshing, low-alcohol wine that is medium-bodied and a great wine with food or alone. 1,000 cases made. Food pairing - Goes well with fish, seafood, poultry & veal. Great with spicy foods or salty meats such as ham.

The second two whites are not really related to one another. What they share in common is that each is produced from an OBSCURE grape. The first is Is Jurancon Sec - it's made from Gros Manseng and is made in the extreme Southwestern corner of France; the second wine is a Scheurebe Kabinett; Scheurebe is the grape and the wine is from the Pfalz area.

Darting Scheurebe Kabinett Halbtrocken Durkheimer Fronhof 2006 (Germany) $18.99 - This is a Terry Thiese wine! If you know only one thing about German wines - know this - Terry Thiese is the leading and best importer of German wines! No one spends mores time in German vineyards and wineries than Terry Thiese! Wonderful wine! Hint of sweetness! Touch of spiciness - this is Scheurebe trait! Lots of fruit flavors and aromas - citrus, pink grapefruit, apricot and even blackberries. The spiciness is peppery. Crisp. Refreshing. Scheurebe (pronounced SHOY-ray-buh. Think Sigmund Freud {FROYd} - thanks for the hint, Tony!) is a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner - developed in 1956. Halbtrocken means "half- dry" or "off-dry." "Halbtrocken - more often achieves the right balance of fullness and bite," Hugh Johnson wrote in his Modern Encyclopedia of Wine. Food pairing - Great choice for a curry dish and other spicy Asian fare (the low alcohol level is refreshing and cleanses your palate and washes away the heat). Goes GREAT with ham! Wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner wine!

Clos Uroulat Cuvée Marie Jurançon Sec 2005 (France) $24.99 - This a unique AND fabulous wine! Clos Uroulat is imported by Martine's Wines. Both are among the best at what they do - make and import unique and tasty wines! LOTS, and LOTS, and LOTS of aromas and flavors! Leave this open and cycle back to it over an evening and your experience will change! And, that is what wine should add to your evening! Savor this! Don't rush through this wine! Aromas and flavors of baking spices, apples, marzipan, roasted almonds and vanilla. This is rich and lush! Great acidity! 90% Gros Manseng and 10% Petit Courbu. The grapes partially dried on the vine; same as with Sauternes. Hand-harvested. Aged in French oak barrels (almost none are new). A whopping 200 cases brought into the USA (that's 2,400 bottles). Food pairing - smoked fish, freshwater fish, seafood, ham, spicy Asian fare, paté and foie gras. Whatever you want to drink with this works! - me - I'm taking my bottle and heading for a comfortable chair and some good friends! Wine Spectator, 90 points

The Reds

For 2 of the reds, we are going to going to compare and contrast 2 red blends, one from France and one from Australia! Old World vs. New World! Duking it out! I prefer Old World wines most days and nights, but that doesn't mean I don't like a big, bold, in your face New World red when the mood strikes!

Mas Carlot "Les Enfants Terribles" Costières de Nimes Syrah & Mourvèdre 2005 (France) $14.99 - I LOVE this! This is made by a husband-and-wife team, Nathalie Blanc-Mares and Cyril Mares (they were the boy-and-girl next door as kids; the wine is jokingly named after their kids). Nathalie's family bought the property and restored it in the 1960's. Mas Carlot practices sustainable agriculture. Complex, robust, tasty! Aromas & flavors of rocky, mineral soil, leather, dark berries, dark plums, black cherries, anise, earth, smoke. Layers & layers - that's probably why it speaks to me so! Everything is well-put-together. Well-balanced. Medium-to-full-bodied. This screams & defines "terroir" - that sense of place that we think wine should have! Half is aged in new oak. Will drink well thru 2009-10. Food pairing - lamb with rosemary, beef, rich mushroom dishes, etc.

Fetish Wines "Playmates" Shiraz Mataro Grenache 2005 (Australia) $19.99 - Outstanding wine that is brand new to Maine! Made by one of Australia's star winemakers, Rolf Binder! The Fetish wines are exclusive to Joshua Tree Imports - these feature the best winemaking from some of Australia's greatest winemakers! Great aromas and flavors - lots going on in this wine! Blackberries, spices, licorice, anise, notes of earth and toasty oak! 89% Shiraz, 8% Mataro & 3% Grenache. 2,500 cases imported. Drink now through 2009. Food pairing - meat dishes, robust vegetarian dish, mushroom dishes, etc. Drinks great on its own! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90-92 points; Wine Spectator, 88 points

For the other set of reds, we are pulling a wine from a "newer" area in Spain, Bierzo! Old World vs. New World! Duking it out! I prefer Old World wines most days and nights, but that doesn't mean I don't like a big, bold, in your face New World red when the mood strikes!

Luna Beberide Mencia Bierzo D.O.C. 2005 (Spain) $13.99 - This wonderful and a STEAL at this price! Bierzo is in northern Spain, near Galicia. Aromas of ripe cherries, spice and earth. Flavors of red and dark berries, graphite, pepper, and minerals. Well-balanced acidity. Long finish. Loads of what the french call "Terroir" - a wine that tastes of a place. Unoaked. Unfiltered. Mencia is the grape. It is local to the area. Another wine from our favorite Spanish importer, Aurelio Cabestrero. Food pairing - grilled meats, goat cheese, mushroom dishes, hearty foods. Drinks well on its own. Wine & Spirits, 91 points; Wine Enthusiast, 90 points; Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 89 points

Domaine de Pallus "Les Pensees de Pallus" Chinon 2004 (France) $18.99 - French winemaker, Bertrand Sourdais, first gained fame making highly acclaimed wine at Dominio de Atauta in Ribera del Duero. While wowing the wine world with these great wines, he wanted to return home to his native Loire Valley and his family's estate, Domaine de Pallus and make wine from Cabernet Franc. 100% biodynamic farming. Wines are aged in 2nd use barrels from Chateau Haut-Brion. Chinon is 100% Cabernet Franc. The grapes from Sourdais's best and oldest vines go into this special wine! This is bottled without filtering or fining. This is one of those bottles that just evolves over time after you've opened it. Aromas of raspberries, black pepper, a little smoke, plums begin to open up. then flavors of red berries, white pepper, roasted nuts and more. This is an elegant wine - rather than an "in your face" wine! I like it A LOT! Food pairing - poultry and white meats. Lighter red meat dishes (veal). Fish with a red wine sauce.

The Dessert

Domaine de Beaumalric Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2005 (France) $18.99 - This winemaker's Beaumes de Venise is known for being fresh and elegant, rather than robust. Aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, peaches and apricots. Nice balancing acidity. Yummy! The grapes are harvested in October when fully ripe, but not overly ripe. The wine is made sweet by "arresting" the fermentation by adding distilled spirits before the yeast ferments off all the residual sugar. 100% Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains. The Greeks may have brought this grape into France before the Romans conquered Gaul. This area is about 2 miles away from the famed Rhone winemaking area of Gigondas! Beaumes means "cave" or "grotto. This area sits adjacent to a line of cliffs below the Ventoux Mountains.