Ce que j’ai dans le porte-bouteille pour le bac de recyclage

Quelqu’un (je ne sais pas qui, si c’était vous, dite le moi – et autrement, merci) a apporté cette bouteille lors d’une soirée. Elle n’a pas était ouverte cette nuit-là , je l’ai donc stockai dans ma cave pour une autre occasion. Normalement, ce sont des vins qui sont consommés très jeune et généralement à l’apéritif. Eh bien, cette bouteille est resté dans ma cave 9 mois de plus que ce que j’aurai voulue, vue l’abstinence due a ma grossesse. Pour cette raison, au moment de déboucher la bouteille, qui devais accompagner une coquilles saint jacques aux risotto champignons, je ne m’attendais pas a grand chose.13255970_816570711808752_8988243240556868206_n
Oh Bacchus, je me trompais! Le sauvignon blanc était encore très aromatique dans la gamme de pamplemousse & citron vert, sa couleur était d’un or pâle fané, et d’une  légère acidité agréablement fraîche. La maturité du colombard nous offrais des notes minérales et des saveur de pommes au four. Pour un vin de ce style et de cet âge, c’est incroyable qu’il n’y eu qu’un simple soupçon de soufre. Il est évident, pour moi, que ce vin a été fermenté à froid pour maintenir la fraîcheur et éviter la nécessité d’utiliser trop de stabilisateurs. Il n’y avait pas de contre étiquette, je dirais qu’il devais se situer aux environs de 11 -11.5% d’alcool. Si je pourrais savoir où acheter ce vin, je n’hésiterais absolument pas a en stocker.

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Château Petit Gravet Ainé, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2007

J’ai récemment découvert ce château lors d’un weekend portes ouvertes à Saint Emilion. Cette propriété ainsi que deux autres à Saint Emilion sont détenue par Madame Catherine PAPON-NOUVELLE. Madame PAPON-NOUVELLE a acquis sa passion pour la viticulture au près de son père. Quand elle a hérité du domaine familiale, elle a rapidement pris partie pour une conversion à l’agriculture biologique.  Ch. PGA se compose de deux hectares sableux où généralement domine des sols alliant argile et calcaire. Pour cette raison, l’encépagement est principalement cabernet franc avec une touche de merlot allant a l’encontre des us et coutumes de la Rive Droite.

Elle a obtenue d’excellentes critiques pour ses millésimes 2009, 2010, et 2012 en restant dans une gamme de  prix raisonnables. Tout en sachent  que ces millésimes sont connus comme des années exceptionnelles, mais sont pas encore prêt a boire.  C’est pour cela que mon choix c’est orienté sur le millésime 2007.  Ce millésime <<classique>>qui ce boit très bien en ce moment me permet juger le caractère et le travaille d’une année typique. J’ai pas été déçu.13256504_816570745142082_4645535287763485664_n

Les premières arômes mon fait penser à la Rive Gauche, un témoignage de concentration plus élevée en cabernet franc, puis l’odeur de terroir typique de St Em s’échappa hors du verre. La bouche est velouté, ronde et emballée avec des arômes de cerises, framboises, et de mûres – toute la richesse d’une vigne sur le côté sud – le tout trempé de soleil. Une légère note cacao et florale, un gout de terroir bien prononcé. Il avait une forte présence de dépôt. A boire dans les 2 ans.  Il a certainement bonifié un steak accompagné d’un brocoli sésame.

Je pense a accorder une attention plus particulière à cette pionnière dans les années à venir.

Domaine de la Perruche Saumur-Champigny Vielles Vignes 2014

Pizza Night! Pas envie de penser ni de faire la vaisselle, alors j’ai jeté une pizza congelée dans le four et choisi une bouteille trouvée au Tours (Val de Loire). Je savais que cela était un sage pari vue que les vins sont plutôt destinés à être consommés jeunes; ils sont en grande partie “acheter maintenant, boire maintenant.” Pour garder un tanin plus léger leurs macérations est plus courte et leurs temps en barrique est minimisé (voir absent).13310590_819823978150092_4672036003200771987_n

Après avoir couché le gamin, nous avons aussi mis ce 100% cabernet franc au lit. Il nous a offert des arômes de confiture de framboise et de violettes . Sa couleur était d’un rubis intense avec des reflets violets . Le corps, d’une texture soyeuse avec une saveur en bouche de fruits des bois et de copeaux de crayon. Un vin très harmonieux avec un potentiel de garde de 3-5 ans .

This week’s empties

Time to take the empty bottles to the recycling bin!

Vintus Blanc sec Gascogne 2013
Someone (I don’t remember who, if it was you, let me know) brought this bottle over when we were having a party. It didn’t get opened that night and I put it in my cellar for another occassion. Normally, these are wines that are consumed very young and usually as an aperitif.  Well, this bottle stayed in my cellar 9 months longer than I wanted it to as I was abstaining from consumption during my pregnancy. I wasn’t expecting much when we popped the cork to accompany scallops with mushroom risotto.

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Oh Bacchus, was I wrong! The sauvignon blanc was still highly aromatic in the grapefruit, lime range. The color was a muted, pale gold. The acidity had calmed to be pleasingly fresh. The colombard‘s maturity offered baked apple and mineral notes. There was only a hint of sulpher, which is incredible for a wine of this style, at this age. It’s obvious, to me, that this wine was cold fermented to maintain the freshness and avoid the need to use too many stabilizers. There wasn’t a back ticket, but if I had to guess, I’d say this was around 11 -11.5% alcohol. If I can figure out where to buy this wine, I would absolutely stock up on it.

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High quality cork from Ch. Petit Gravet Ainé, St Emilion Grand Cru,2007.

Chateau Petit Gravet Ainé, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2007 SUPERSTAR OF THE WEEK

I recently discovered this chateau during an open house weekend in Saint Emilion. The property, as well as two other St Em properties, is owned by Madame Catherine Papon-Nouvelle. Madame Papon-Nouvelle accquired her passion for viticulture alongside her father. When she inherited the family domain, she quickly set about converting them all to organic agriculture.  PGA consists of two sandy hectares where generally we have clay and limestone. For this reason, the vineyard is planted predominately to cabernet franc with a remainder of merlot where the tradition is opposite on the Right Bank.

She’s been given outstanding reviews for 2009, 2010, and 2012 and has been able to keep the prices reasonable. These vintages are known as exceptional years, but are nowhere near ready to drink. That’s why I chose to take home a 2007, which is a classic vintage and drinking well right now, and which would allow me to judge the character that is there during a typical year. I was not disappointed.13256504_816570745142082_4645535287763485664_n

The first aromas made me think of something from the Left Bank, a testament to the higher concentration of cab franc, but then the telltale minerality of Saint Emilion mingled its way out of the glass. The palate was velvety, full-bodied and packed with flavors of the ripe cherries, raspberries, and blackberries we get from the vines on the sun drenched south side of town. There were slight floral and cacao notes and that Saint Emilion mineral that grips at your tongue and holds you captive.  There was considerable sediment. Cellar potential is another 2-3 years. It definitely classed up a simple steak and sesame broccoli dinner.

I’m going to be paying much closer attention to this pioneering lady in coming years.

 

Domaine de la Perruche Saumur-Champigny Vielles Vignes 2014

Pizza night! Didn’t feel like thinking or cleaning the dishes, so I popped a frozen pizza in the oven and selected a bottle I found in Tours (Loire Valley). I knew that this was a sage bet because the wines of this region are are typically intended to be consumed young; they are largely “buy now, drink now” wines. That means that they’ve not been macerated very long or left in oak barrels for more than a few months (if at all). This keeps the tannin from becoming too powerful.13310590_819823978150092_4672036003200771987_n

After the kid went down for the night, so did this 100% cabernet franc.  It offered aromas of raspberry jam and violettes. The color was an intense ruby with violet reflects.  The body, medium with a silky texture and a palate of fruit des bois (berries found on vines) and pencil shavings. The finish was 4 seconds. A very harmonious wine with a cellar potential of 3-5 years.

 

Loire Valley Sparklers for the Summer

 

There are few beverages that personify celebration like Champagne. We love the texure of fireworks on the palate and the tickle in the nose as the froth of bubbles overflows a fluted glass. And don’t you just love throwing down $230 (retail) for a bottle of Cristal? Erh… no. Or… not always. Some champagnes are meant for aging and do have a higher price point because they were crafted as a long term investment, not for pouring on the honeys in your rap video. But  that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money to find some good fizz.

The first step is to look outside of the Champagne region. True Champagne can only come from the viticultural area known as Champagne, but the same process that gets those bulles in the bottle can be reproduced elsewhere, but with more leniency.

In 1811, Jean-Baptiste Ackerman founded the oldest continuously producing méthode traditionnel sparkling wine house of the Loire River Valley.

Loire Valley vineyards with caves tunneled into the limestone cliff. Credit: ridingfortheirlives.blogspot.com
Loire Valley vineyards with caves tunneled into the limestone cliff. Credit: ridingfortheirlives.blogspot.com

The cool Loire limestone is a perfect terrior for cabernet franc, chenin blanc, and chardonnay. Today, Ackerman’s co-operative vineyards are certified by the International Food Standard and are 100% traceable with a heavy concentration on bio-sustainability.

Ackerman Saumer 1811 Brut Rosé – Under 6€ / $9-18

Crafted from 100% Cabernet Franc (a red grape), this bubbly has a salmon pink color. The nose is yeast roll and peach. The palate is light with red berry notes and a medium fizz with a finish that lags a bit. I served this as an apéritif (no harm adding a few berries) with shrimp cocktail, but finished the bottle with grilled mackerel and curried Basmati.

Ackerman Saumur 1811 Brut Rosé with grilled mackerel.
Ackerman Saumur 1811 Brut Rosé with grilled mackerel.

2 1/2 Stars out of 5

 

Ackerman Saumer 1811 Blanc Demi-Sec – Under 6€ / $9-18

This is a blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Demi-sec translates to “half-dry” and that means that this is a wine halfway between sweet and dry. I often suggest this type of wine to people that are looking to develop their palates beyond moscato. The color is a pale gold with green reflects. The nose is of apple blossom and honey and the palate is sweet mirabelle and honeydew melon. The finish has a fuji apple crisp acidity. The bubbles were tight and delicate. I had this with grilled salmon and green cauliflower.

Ackerman Saumur 1811 Blanc Demi-Sec with salmon & green cauliflower.
Ackerman Saumur 1811 Blanc Demi-Sec with salmon & green cauliflower.

The last glass of the bottle was

accompanied by honey citrus tarts with a speculoos crust and the apple acidity really refreshed the palate. I think this one would be excellent with a spicy tikka masala.

Ackerman Saumur 1811 Blanc Demi-Sec paired with honey citrus tart with speculoos crust.
Ackerman Saumur 1811 Blanc Demi-Sec paired with honey citrus tart with speculoos crust.

3 stars out of 5

Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Brut Under $15 (available at Spec’s)

Built by Charles VII in the 4th century, Chateau Moncontour has been admired for its views and its viticultural terroir.

Since 1994, the Feray Family have become masters of the chenin blanc variétal. Their focus has rested with the cremant style, Chateau Moncontour Magnum Brut Non vintage being the most widely distributed of their selections.

Once upon a time, I was hosting a crawfish boil which included some “I only drink beer, because I’m macho” types. I served them this wine in red Solo cups and waited until after they’d quenched the crab boil spiciness to tell them that they were enjoying sparkling wine (…and…gasp…French)! I got myself two new clients that day and one of them ended up drinking esoteric Rhone whites by the end of the year.

Ch Moncontour is a good beer substitute because the carbonation is tight. The body is medium, similar to a well-made blonde lager. The aromas and flavors remind me of fresh apricot kolaches with a green apple crisp on the finish.

It easily pairs with a wide range of cuisine

Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Brut paired with pineapple cilantro chicken salad on croissant.
Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Brut paired with pineapple cilantro chicken salad on croissant.

without being pretentious, making it one of my favorite ‘throw-downs’ for pizza night, take-out sushi, and most recently, Sunday’s left-over rotisserie chicken salad sandwiches.

4 stars out of 5

Variations of Loire Valley sparklers are available all over the States and cost a tad more than the swill they call “California Champagne,” but much higher quality. Remember these terms:

Brut = dry or more acid than sugar, leaving a clean finish

Demi-sec = half dry or balance between acid and sugar

Doux = sweet or a high residual sugar / low alcohol content.

So next time you’re organizing a rap video pool party, skip the Cristal and Dom Perignon and grab a bottle of Loire bubbles. Use the money you save for your Jesus chain instead.  R.I.P. Biggie.