More Than Merlot - A guide to wine in the real world

Posts Tagged ‘France’

Interesting Whites

March 19, 2013

Haut Marin Gros Manseng

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Greetings, ‘yall!  Sorry, just got back from a week in the south…  I have an exciting wine to tell you about, Haut Marin Gros Manseng from the Côtes de Gascogne region in the south west of France (just below Bordeaux).  Part of what makes this wine so exciting is the fact that I found it and confirmed its existence!  My father found this wine at a little botique market, The Golden Goose, near his office downtown.  He raved about it and told me he was trying to buy it by the case but that his “wine guy” kept coming up short.  He told me the name of the wine, Haut Mansin, and I had never heard of it.  Then he told me the varietal, Gros Manseng, and I had never heard of that, either!  I was beginning to think Dad was confused or just making things up, but then we walked into a little store in Hilton Head on our way to my sister’s house and low and behold there was a case of Haut Marin Gros Manseng on display right at the front of the store!  We started chatting with the owner (who was from Andover of all places, small world!) and he said that the people in the development near the store (Moss Creek, a super exclusive golf and tennis community) LOVED it and bought it by the case all the time.  He also explained that the distributor in Charleston, SC, was having trouble importing it and it was causing shortages all over the country, which explains why my Dad’s guy in Boston couldn’t track it down.  But on to the important stuff… 

What, you may ask, is Gros Manseng?  Well, it is a white varietal very similar to Sauvignon Blanc in my opinion.  Light and citrusy with a hint of sweet peach, lovely for a warm South Carolina afternoon on the porch swing.  Also a great vacation wine because it is a screw top, in case you forgot your wine pull.  Had I tasted this wine blindly I would have picked it for a Sauv Blanc for sure.  It is my first and only exposure to the varietal but I would absolutely try it again.  Haut Marin produced a great Gros Manseng for sure and I would recommend the bottle, if, that is, you can track it down!  Please forgive the image above, I did not snap one with my own camera and when I tried to find a Gros Manseng label I came up short, so the label is from another Haut Marin white.  At least you can see the style of the label so you know what to look for… 

 

 

(Image via)

Interesting Reds

July 11, 2012

Chateau Montaud Cotes de Provence

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Next up this month we have the delightful Chateau Montaud Cotes de Provence. This 2011 rose cost $10 and comes in a beautiful bottle typical of rose from the region.

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The wine is made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. The nose is lightly floral with soft berry notes the palate is smooth with bright strawberry and cherry flavors. This is a dry rose and despite its fruit flavors it is not at all sweet. But that is ok because sweetness is not what a real rose is all about, right? I enjoyed this wine very much and would highly recommend it. Looks like we’re two for two on rose month, huzzah! Check it out and let me know what you think. Until next week, salute!

Interesting Reds

July 4, 2012

Chateau de Castelneau Rose

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It’s summer, everyone! I know, I know, summer officially been a few weeks ago, but July is the time when it really feels like summer, you know? June can be touchy, some cooler days and such, but July is all sunshine and happiness! Nothing says summer to me like a cool, crisp rose wine. Sitting at a cafe on the beach in Nice, sipping a cool, pink wine, nibbling on marinated olives and toasted almonds, the sun shining down and filling you with joy. THAT is my happy place, right there… Let me begin by saying that I mean rose, NOT white Zinfandel. Real rose wine gets its color from brief exposure to the skins of the red grapes from which the white grape juice is pressed and then fermented. White Zin is dyed and sweetened and just an abomination. But enough about that, let’s get right into our wine of the week, a delightful 2010 Bordeaux rose by Chateau de Castelneau.

 

This rose is made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The nose is slightly floral with bright strawberry. The palate is light and crisp with a medium finish and a hint of sweetness. The bottle was only $9, an absolute steal in my opinion! I recommend this wine for sure. Try it for yourself, and happy summer!

 

(image via)

Interesting Reds

April 23, 2012

Pierre Amadieu “Roulepierre”

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Have we come to the end of Rhone month already? We must as I only have one more Rhone left on the rack to try! The last wine up is Pierre Amadieu “Roulepierre” 2009 Cotes du Rhone.

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This 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah blend is exactly what I think of when I imagine the Rhone Valley. Smooth, fruity, well balanced, it is a real home run. The winemaker describes the wine as having, “red and black fruit scents (blackberry, plum),” with a hint of liquorish in the palate. This description is right on, plus there is a real sweetness on the nose and even a hint of vanilla. Very pleasant all around. You could pair this with pretty much anything, and you can totally drink it on its own, too. Don’t you love wines like that? Powerful yet soft, like the perfect man… For $11.99 a bottle at Whole Foods I will buy this wine again, maybe even by the case, I love it that much. Hurrah, I LOVE projects like this focus on the Rhone because they force me to make more creative wine choices and find new favorites! Not that Rhones aren’t a part of my normal wine-buys, but I would pick up a bottle here or there, not 4 at once to then compare all within a few weeks…

So, to wrap up Rhone month, here are the four wines we tried in order of how much we loved them:
*Pierre Amadieu “Roulepierre”
*M. Chapoutier Belleruche
*Brotte Le Griveliere
*Le Vieille Ferme

Four great selections to get a feel for the region! I hope this little project helps you get a better understanding of Rhone wines and that the next time you’re out and want to try a nice red that’s not too big but not too light that you’ll remember to check out this region instead of just picking another California Pinot. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with California Pinots, but it’s good to branch out and try new things! If you have any questions about these wines or about the Rhone valley in general please do not hesitate to contact me. Excited to tell you about our project for May next week! In the meantime I’ll be celebrating my 9 year anniversary of legal wine tasting this weekend. Sounds better than saying I’m turning 30, don’t you think? Wish me luck…

Interesting Reds

April 18, 2012

Brotte Le Griveliere

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Happy Marathon Week!  Marathon Monday is one of my favorite days of the year here in Boston, especially this year as my little brother ran the race for the first time!  It was one of the hottest Marathon Mondays on record topping out at 90 degrees.  YUCK.  So as tempted as I am to write about some of the great white wines I sampled over the past few days, I will stick to April’s theme and tell you about a lovely red from the Rhone Valley, Brotte Le Griveliere 2010 Cotes du Rhone.

I picked this bottle up at Whole Foods for $10.99, on sale from $15.99.  Wonderful deal for a wonderful wine!  The nose was full of stone fruit, most notably red cherry, with a pleasant hint of vanilla.  The cherry comes from the Grenache in the blend which makes up 80% of the wine, the remaining 20% was comprised of Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan.  The wine was full bodied, fuller than I would have expected for something predominately Grenache, but even just that 10% of Syrah really adds depth (and tannin) to the blend.  I think the wine was nicely balanced and very dynamic, I could pair it with a number of different meals.  We enjoyed it with a spicy chicken sausage and pasta dish loaded with sautéed zucchini and mushrooms.  It held up well to the spice but wasn’t too heavy for the warmed spring weather.  For $10.99 I would absolutely buy this wine again.  For $15.99, however, I may opt for one of the other great Rhones I’ve tried recently.  Not that I wouldn’t recommend the wine, but it wasn’t SO special that I’d go above my normal $10-$12 price range for a weeknight bottle.  So there are my two cents, I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried this one!

Interesting Reds

April 11, 2012

La Vieille Ferme

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Happy Wines-day! I’ve gotten some great feedback on last week’s review, I’m glad people are as excited about Rhone wines as I am! This week we are taking a look at one of the most widely distributed Rhones around, 2010 Le Vieille Ferme red blend. Easily identifiable with its quirky rooster label, Le Vieille Ferme can be found in almost any liquor store in both traditional and large format bottles. I bought the 750mL size at Whole Foods for $7.99. Very affordable, but is it any good? Let’s take a look…

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This red blend does contain the primary Rhone varietals Grenache and Syrah, but it is made primarily of two lesser blending varietals, Carignan and Cinsault. This blend gives the wine good body but not the normal Rhone profile I have come to expect (fruit forward, medium bodied and soft, smooth finish). I actually think it is more reminiscent of a Bordeaux style table wine, if I tasted the wine blind that is definitely what I would have guessed… So let’s break down the flavor profile!

First of all, I let the wine breath for about 20 minutes before trying. Even at that we had some trouble identifying too much until it breathed for another half hour or so (which wasn’t a long wait as it was occupied with rocking baby back to sleep, how times have changed…). I got a lot of spice notes on the nose with a hint of sweetness. The palate was a bit muddled at first, but eventually I was able to pull out some blackberry and a slight blueberry. The blueberry most likely what accounted for the sweetness on the nose. The tannins created a lingering finish, not the best in the world but not horrible. Overall, for the price, I think this wine is just fine. It would make for great sangria, bold enough to still make the drink taste like wine and not sweet fruity wine-style beverage. If you’re drinking it on its own I’d suggest pairing it with some sort of food to take the edge off, or let it breath for a while first. I will note that I have had the white blend by the same label and enjoyed it, they are both good wines to have on hand for dinner parties when your meal is over and people have had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner but want something to keep sipping on afterwards…

If you have tried Le Vieille Ferme I’d love to hear your thoughts! Until next time, cheers!

Interesting Reds

April 1, 2012

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone

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This month we are going to be taking a look at wines from the Rhone Valley in southern France. Early spring is a great time for Rhone wines. It’s not warm enough to want whites yet, but you don’t want big spicy reds either. Many grape varietals are grown in the Rhone but the primary ones are Grenache and Syrah. This makes for fun, fruity wines that are easy to drink – they are also among the more affordable French wines, too!

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To kick off our Cotes-du-Rhone adventure we have M. Chapoutier Belleruche, a 2010 Grenache/Syrah blend. With a bright cherry nose this wine is inviting right from the start (note, I did let the wine breath for a good 30 minutes before tasting…). The palate was soft with hints of pepper but not overly spicy. I found the finish to be super smooth, you get a nice alcohol but it doesn’t linger. This was a bit less fruity than what I normally expect from Rhone wines but I enjoyed it all the same. We paired the wine with brown rice, chicken and sautéed peppers and it was a great compliment. Not sure how it would do against a bolder meal like a steak or a stew, but this time of year we don’t tend to eat those heavy dishes so I think you’ll find this wine will match what you’re eating now. Which is just the point of reviewing wines from the Rhone, right?

I purchased the bottle for $10.99 from my local Whole Foods and absolutely plan to purchase it again. This is a great wine to have around the house as it will pair well with many casual meals and is also great to sip on its own (or out of a plastic bottle the next day at the movie theater while watching “Hunger Games” if you are this inclined.. Not that I would EVER do something like that.). I think this wine would be great to bring to a party or to Easter dinner. Wine people will love its versatility and a casual drinker will love its softness and smooth finish. If you’ve tried it I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

Cheers!

Malbec,Wine Reviews

May 2, 2011

Lulu B.

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Happy Monday!  Oh my goodness, new favorite wine alert!  Last week I discovered Lulu B., a series of wines produced from the makers of Cupcake.  First of all, how adorable is the label?  When Monique told me that she liked the wine I knew I had to try it – especially at 3 for $25!  We grabbed the Pinot Grigio, the Cab and the Malbec.  Each wine is from a different country, Pinot Grigio from Italy, Malbec from Chile, Pinot Noir from France, and the Can and Chard from California.  Quite a tour de force!  They are all simple, easy to drink varietal wines.  My favorite so far is the Malbec, it is light and bright and perfect for sipping on the patio with cheese and my Kindle.  You should definitely try these out folks, great summer time wines!  Let me know what you think, cheers!

 

(photo credit:  LuluB.com)

Interesting Reds,Out on the Town,Wine Reviews

March 15, 2011

Stella!

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Last night we met up with some friends in town for supper.  The reservation wasn’t until 7:30 so we had some time to kill beforehand.  We headed over to Stella, an adorable bar/restaurant in the South End.  All decked out in chic Italian white, this is a great place to hang out and people watch.  We selected a bottle of J. Lohr Gamay.  Kind of random, I know, but you know how I feel about lesser-known varietals.  I couldn’t recall having a 100% Gamay wine before and I was very intrigued by the soft tannin and jammy flavor.  Tons of blackberry and raspberry.  There were strong alcohol notes on the finish (I know, all wines are alcohol, but some have more alcohol essence than others, it’s a real thing in the wine world, I swear!) and overall I really enjoyed the wine.

 

 

Well, you know what’s funny?  When I looked up the wine on the J. Lohr website, I discovered that it is actually NOT a Gamay but a Valdiguié!  I hadn’t even heard of the varietal so I didn’t think anything of the fact that it was printed on the label of the wine.  I guess I figured it was something to do with the vineyard.  But anyway, I looked it up and apparently the wine makers thought it was Gamay until U.C. Davis testers determined that it was actually Valdiguié, an even lesser-known varietal with roots in southwest France.  I guess the folks at Stella didn’t get the update, oh well!  Doesn’t change the fact that we really enjoyed the wine.  We also enjoyed the price, only $28 for the bottle!  And, of course, we  enjoyed the fried artichoke hearts in a caper-laden sauce that we nibbled on while we were waiting.  Yum.

 

Interesting Whites,Pinot Grigio,Wine Reviews

March 14, 2011

Grillin’ & Gris

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Happy Monday, all!  We tried a lovely new wine over the weekend that I am excited to share with you.  It was suggested by Monique, our darling wine-lady at a local store near our house.  Monique has not reccommended a bad wine yet, in fact, she is the one who led us to both Liberty School Cab and Axis Zin, so you know this one is going to be good…  We felt like doing a little grilling and wanted something that would pair well with shrimp and veggie kabobs.

 

 

The wine Monique suggested was Joseph Cattin Pinto Gris from the Alsace region of France.  It was REALLY good.  I found the wine to be on the sweeter side of dry, loads of vanilla and apricot notes.  The winemaker points out strong spice and smoke notes but I didn’t really pick up on a lot of smoke until the finish.  The smoke was mild enough and complimented the sweeter palate so I didn’t mind it at all (normally not a huge fan of smoke).  Fantastic compliment to the grilled meal.  At 2 for $25 I would totally buy this wine again.  By the way, can you please take a look at this beautiful tray of veggies?  Doesn’t that look SO GOOD.  Now imagine it with a fresh blue cheese & herb dipping sauce.  Right?

 

 

 

So glad to be grilling again, next Monday is the first day of spring – as well as the Hub’s birthday!  Hurrah for fun times and fine wines!