Thursday, August 29, 2013

Weekly Wine Review - French Rosé (Loire) - 2012 Noël Bougrier Rosé D'anjou

The hot summer continues - so does my quest for great Rosé wine to help beat the heat - while not breaking the budget.  For me, buying Rosé is about balance - spend too little and you may end up with a lesser quality that may be unpleasantly bitter, or just unpleasant.  Also, Rosés to me should be easy drinking, not complex, and therefore not somewhere to sink a lot of my wine budget.  I have had success in the $10 - $15, and continue looking for good options in this range. Today's wine is from the Loire Valley of France.

Wine: 2012 Noël Bougrier Rosé D'anjou
Region:  Anjou-Saumur, Loire Valley France
Grape Varieties: I could not find the information on grape varieties for this wine, but much Rosé D'anjou is made from Grolleau Noir, a grape found only in a very few regions.
Obtained from: Purchased at Total Wine & More
Price: $11.00
Wino4Life Category: Everyday Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Screw Cap - no defects or issues.
Appearance: Wine is clear, with a pinkish-red color that very much resembles watermelon.
Aroma: A pleasant aroma of red fruit and more red fruit - cherry and strawberry.
Taste: A bit sweet - but not over the top. Very refreshing.

The Grade: I give this one a B.  Not my favorite in this category and price, but a pleasant wine overall. The bit of residual sugar may make this a good match with spicier foods such as Chinese or Indian.  Any of your friends or family hold-outs from the White Zinfandel era? This wine may be a way to ease them into trying some better pink wines.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wine Tip of the Week: Pairing Wines with Desserts

If you keep in mind only one rule when pairing wine with dessert it should be this one - make sure the wine you serve is as sweet or sweeter than the dessert. 

To refine your pairing you should also consider the acidity of the dessert (such as a dessert with fruit or a fruit based sauce).  Acid should pair with acid, so look for a dessert wine with a higher acid level. Lastly, consider the intensity of the dessert - a intensely flavorful dessert needs a more intense wine to stand up to it. 

Your local wine shop can help you find a dessert wine - just let them know what you need. Most of all - Enjoy!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weekly Wine Review - Spanish Red - 2001 Berberana Rioja Reserva Viña Alarde

As part of a recent trip to Pasadena to escape the Arizona heat, we had a fantastic meal at The Eatery.  The restaurant has only been open a short time, so it is still BYOB. The Chef at The Eatery, Claud Beltran was nice enough to ask the owner of Monopole Wine, who was dining the same night as us, to suggest (and deliver) a couple bottles of wine to go with our meal.  We enjoyed the Rioja he picked out so much, we went to the store to get another bottle the next day.

Wine: 2001 Berberana Rioja Reserva Viña Alarde
Region: Rioja, Spain
Grape Varieties: Tempranillo
Obtained from: Purchased at Monipole Wine in Pasadena, California
Price: $20.00
Wino4Life Category: Weekend Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Natural Cork - no defects or issues.
Appearance: Wine is clear, dark red with a pinkish rim.
Aroma: Powerfully aromatic.  Red fruit like cherries, spices, leather, and a nice hint of vanilla.
Taste: Very flavorful and fruity - this wine was very food friendly.

The Grade: I give this one an A.  Tastes like a much more expensive wine to me, very aromatic, delicious and nicely balanced. I have tried more recent vintages of this wine and found them to be overly oaky in taste. Rioja had a very good year in 2001, and this wine shows it as it as aged very nicely and has started to develop those non-fruit aromas like spice, leather, and vanilla.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wine Tip of the Week: Store Your Natural Cork Wines on Their Side

For wine bottles sealed with natural corks (or composite corks), it is important to store them on their sides. This position keeps wine in contact with the cork - helping ensure the cork will not dry out and compromise the seal.   For synthetic corks or screw caps, or wines that you are going to drink within a week or so, this is not as important - but for any longer, lay 'em down!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weekly Wine Review - Washington State Red Blend - 2010 Apex The Catalyst

My quest for great value wines often has me looking to non-US wines especially in South America and in Spain.  There are also some great value opportunities closer here to home - especially in Washington State.  Not only do they make some great value wines, but they are typically very drinkable even when young. When I saw this Cabernet based blend for $17 - I had to give it a try.

Wine:  2010 Apex The Catalyst
Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State
Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah
Obtained from: Purchased at Total Wine & More
Price: $17.00
Wino4Life Category: Everyday Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Natural Cork - no defects or issues.
Appearance: Wine is clear, dark purple at its core with a water white rim.
Aroma: Big aromas with ripe red fruit like cherries, a bit of smokiness and a lot of herbal aromas as well.  Definitely some mint and some green pepper. Green pepper can sometimes denote grapes picked too early, but with the level of fruity aromas, I don't think that is the case at all with this wine.
Taste: Very delicious, great fruit, nice acidity, a reasonable amount of tannins and an excellent finish. The combination of fruit and herbal flavors make for a very interesting and pleasing taste. 

The Grade: I give this one an A. An exceptional value wine - delicious and nicely complex for under $20. A wine like this from Napa would likely cost you double the price - so give this one a try.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If at First You Don't Succeed - Pair, Pair Again!

Right up there with my love for wines from Spain is my love for cheese from Spain.  A pairing some red Rioja with Manchego or Cabrales blue cheese is one of my favorite food and wine combos in the world.  During our last trip to Spain, we brought home a bit of another cheese made exclusively in the province of Asturias - Gamonedo.  

Gamanedo is a blue cheese made with a unique process that has the wheels of cheese placed in a small “cabaña” where they’re lightly smoked and allowed to gently dry for one month before they are transferred to a cave for additional maturing. 

To pick a wine to pair with this special cheese treat, I used a couple of simple rules:
  • It's a safe bet to drink Spanish wine with Spanish food (you can substitute any other country and the rule still holds true!)
  • Fuller bodied, fruity reds typically stand up nicely to the saltiness and hint of sweetness present in blue cheese.
Based on these two rules I picked a 2001 Berberana Rioja Reserva Viña Alarde, a nice fully bodied Rioja that I first tried during a trip to Pasadena, CA a couple of weeks ago.  We had this wine with a tasting menu - and it was a very food friendly red, and had wonderful aromas of dark fruit and lots of vanilla.

Confident in my pairing choice, Wino4Life wife and I sat down to enjoy the wine and Gamonedo along with some other spanish cheeses from a great Spanish store in California La Española Meats. The first taste of this very special cheese was quite interesting, buttery, acidic, and a nice level of smokiness that did not overpower the other flavors in the cheese. 

Now comes the wine... and the result is... AWFUL!  The flavors of the cheese became almost chemical, and the fruity flavor of the wine was destroyed - leaving only the feeling of tannins in the mouth. What happened? Was the wine bad? 

We tried the wine with Manchego and quince paste (one of my favorite cheese bites in the world), some drunken goat cheese, and some soft goat cheese rolled in paprika. With each of the cheeses the wine pairing was excellent.

This just goes to show you that the rules of food and wine pairing don't always work. But don't give up - everything out there in the food world probably has some type of wine companion that will make a nice marriage.  I took another taste of the cheese trying to figure out what characteristics made it clash so much with our delicious Rioja.  I noticed the smokey aftertaste was similar to a roasted nut, which made me think of another Spanish specialty - a nice dry Sherry, which tend to have an aftertaste of roasted nuts.  I happened to have a bit of a wonderful Amontillado Sherry, a Gonzalez Byass Del Duque. A piece of Gamonedo and a sip of the Sherry - and bingo!  A really nice pairing that made the smokiness of the cheese taste even more pleasant, and mellowed the intense flavor of the Sherry.

I was lucky to find a nice pairing with just one more attempt - some pairings may take many experiments to find something that works - but keep at it, and pair, pair again! It is worth the effort when you find that food and wine combination that just sings. 

Have any favorite or surprising food and wine pairings? Share with us in the comments below, or tweet @wine4lifeblog.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wine Tip of the Week: Need a Versatile Red? Go Malbec!

If you are looking for a very versatile red with great wines available at great value prices - look no further than Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.  Finca Flichman and Cruz Alta make some great ones, and there are tons more out there. Good with food - good to sip, about as versatile as you can get!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Weekly Wine Review - South American Rosé - 2012 Finca Flichman Misterio Rosé

Finca Flichman makes some of my absolute favorite Malbec. The Reserva level and the standard level are both excellent values and consistently good quality. At my last trip to my sanctuary that is Total Wine & More, I found their Malbec/Shiraz blend Rosé.  

Wine: 2012 Finca Flichman Misterio Rosé
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
Grape Varieties: Malbec 50%, Shiraz (Syrah) 50%
Obtained from: Purchased at Total Wine & More
Price: $9.00
Wino4Life Category: Everyday Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Screw Top - no defects or issues.
Appearance: Very dark pink in color - a little more time in contact with the grape skins and this would be a full fledged red wine!
Aroma: A nose of mostly strawberry, with a hint of spice. A bit intense for a rosé, just like the coloring.
Taste: When first tasted it was quite bitter, but I tried it quite cold (about 47-48 degrees Fahrenheit). After it warmed up a bit some of the bitterness went away, but a bit too much of it remained. Some nice fruit taste, but overall somewhat unbalance.

The Grade: I give this one a B-.  Certainly not a bad wine for $9, but I recommend spending a bit more and getting some a bit more special, but still a great value for a summer sipper. Check out my other rosé reviews for some ideas. Definitely try some Finca Flichman Malbec when you are shopping for a red, you will not be disappointed!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Wine Tip of the Week: Brush those Teeth, But Brush Early

If you are going to be enjoying some fine wine - either at home, at a tasting, or perhaps a nice dinner you need to be make sure your mouth is in top shape to get the most out of tasting your wine.

You want to have a mouth that's nice and clean with your teeth brushed - but be careful, the impact of that minty tasting toothpaste can linger in the mouth for a few hours, and will impact your perception of a wine's flavor. So brush those teeth and brush them well, but make sure and do it at least 2 hours before you will be trying wine, and rinse like crazy. This little bit of planning will help you get the most enjoyment out of your wine.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Weekly Wine Review - French Rosé - 2011 Le Chant du Soleil Tavel

The summer month's and the heat is on - and my search for great Rosé continues. Today's wine is from the Tavel appellation in Southern France. These Rosé's are typically a blend of Grenache and Cinsault, but may occasionally include some Syrah and Mourvedre as well as some lesser known Rhone grape varietals. This particular wine is comprised of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Clairette, and 5% Syrah. 

Wine: 2011 Le Chant du Soleil Tavel
Region: Southern Rhone, France
Grape Varieties: Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette, and Syrah
Obtained from: Purchased at Total Wine & More
Price: $12.00
Wino4Life Category: Everyday Wine
Aeration before tasting: Just a swirl or two, no special aeration.

Cork Condition: Synthetic cork - no defects or issues.
Appearance: Wine is clear, dark pink in color with a water white rim.
Aroma: Nicely fruity - mostly strawberry and cherry.
Taste: Slightly bitter at first - but mellowed out as the wine warmed a bit.  I had this wine stored at around 47 degrees, which is a bit cold for this type of Rosé. Very delicious and nicely acidic - a bit fuller bodied that many Rosé, but in a good way.

The Grade: I give this one an A.  For the price this is a great summer wine to help you cool off a bit.  If  you find other Rosés too wimpy - you may like this one a lot, give it a try!