This week’s wine Wednesday is about a wine from Bernard Magrez, Si Mon Père Savait. Made from a blend of 69% Syrah, 17% Carignan, and 14% Grenache, it screams Southern France and particularly Roussillon. Infact, it is from the Côtes du Roussillon. The vines are grown on schist soils. The grapes are vinified separately in inox and then blended in a second step. Half the wine ages in barrels and half in inox and then they are blended. The vines are on average 30 years old. The Grenache and the Carignan are bushed trained and the Syrah is on a royal cordon trellising system. It had that wonderful “garrigue, Mediterranean vegetal aroma” and really made me want to visit the south of France. Berries and bramble, earthy notes and black fruit made it a great pairing for my weekly Peruvian chicken. I found this page about it on wine-searcher.com. This was the 2011 so the blend is a little different. Bernard Magrez is world famous for his big Bordeaux estates like Château Pape Clément. This is an very affordable and delicious sample of what he can produce.
Category Archives: Wine Wednesday
This week’s blizzard has really made me miss ife on the slopes, all of it. I always remember the panini with speck and asiago cheese that I would eat when skiing in Italy and the desire to drink Vin Brule but the knowledge that too much of it would make me a worse skier. Hopefully, a settimana bianca will again be part of my life as Niccolo’ learns to ski and wants to go. It’s a great tradition in Italy that I miss.
This week’s wine of the week for wine wednesday is about Petite Arvine from Ottin. It was very clear and crisp with nice minerality and acidity. A straight-forward wine, “franco” the Italians wood say.
This is a fresh and friendly white wine which is a perfect drink on the mountains after a tough day on the slopes or after a hike in that beautiful countryside. I’ve always had it with mountain cheese such as Fontina DOP, charcuterie such as Jambon de Bosses DOP, Lard d’Arnad or alone as an aperitif.
I wish I had great pictures from the Valle d’Aosta. It is such a marvelous and special place. I have been skiing there a number of times (Monte Cervino, Monte Bianco, La Thuile) in my years in Italy and each time came back with a renewed respect for the mountains, the land and the wines. I have not spent much time there during the summer but I am sure the hiking rivals the skiing.
Each year they have an exposition for their wines in September. The association is called the Associazione Viticulteurs Encaveurs. In Italian, the term “viticultura eroica” means that those harvesting the wines are basically “heros” because it is so difficult in terms of the slope of the terraces.
In terms of wine production, there are a number of cooperatives as well as many individual producers. I also learned that some 40% of the members of the cooperatives are women, a fact I found quite interesting.
I spent a long time with a sommelier from the Valle d’Aosta at VInitaly one year. He was so incredibly well prepared and knowledgeable that I felt I had taken a trip through the region and through the vineyards with him. In fact, I highly suggest going to the sommelier booths at Vinitaly in years to come. You learn a lot and can taste many wines. I went on the last day of the fair at 900 AM and was alone with him for about one hour. I realize not everyone has that luxury. I felt very lucky that I did. It was one of my favorite tastings at the fair and among the most instructive.
For now, just an invitation and a suggestion – visit the Valle d’Aosta on your next holiday, winter or summer and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
This week’s Wine Wednesday post is all about Quinta Monte São Sebastião from the Douro Valley. The quinta’s history started in 1950. They have 4 hectares devoted to wine and three to olive growing near the town of Murca out of a property of 50 hectares. Pinhao is the largest city near the winery. We arrived there after a long day and had perhaps the best meal of the week that I was in the Douro Valley. The fantastic homemade meal was a moment to also try their wines with food.
They also have guest rooms where one can stay while visiting the Douro. The quinta is located in the Cimo Corgo Sub-region, that runs from the junction of the Corgo river
and the Temilobos stream to Cachão da Valeira. They grow mostly only indigenous varieties such as white grapes Códegado Larinho, Gouveio and Rabigato and red varieties Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz. The white varieties grow on granite at an average altitude of 500 meters in order to preserve their natural freshness, while the red grapes are grown at lower altitudes.
Unlike most of the other farms we visited in the Douro, they also make sparkling wine such as the one seen in the picture above. They make three types of these wines and are doing quite well with it, we were told. This was not at all typical of the area. Pedro Guedes is their winemaker who we nicknamed winegyver because he apparently was quite inventive with his use of random tools to make fermentation tanks and the like such as a washing machine drum and a fish tank tube…
I also really liked their white wine, which was a blend of Rabigato, Gouveio and Codegado Larinho. It was an easy drinking wine with bright acidity. Apparently that comes from the Rabigato while the Codegado grape brings aromatics.
They also made a red that was interesting using Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barocca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. It went through a cold soak for 48 hours. It was ripe and full bodied with juicy, silky tannins.
I thought the owner and his father were truly lovely and welcoming. We didn’t get too spend much time visiting the winery but it’s definitely a place to watch and somewhere I would return if and when I get back to the Douro valley.
This wine Wednesday is dedicated to a wine from New Zealand from the Giesen Brothers. A friend brought it over for diner a few weeks ago. It paired perfectly with the Peruvian spiced chicken we were eating and I found all the earthy, mushroom notes that I would look for in a Pinot Noir. While clearly from the new world, it also had some hints of an old world pinot noir from a cool climate. It was less jammy than those I find from California and had an elegance that I appreciated it. Upon reading their website, I discovered that is was made by three brothers who hailed from Germany, Theo, Alex and Marcel Giesen. Today they operate throughout the Marlborough region. The wine retails for around $22 a bottle. To find a store near you, click here. New Zealand is a country that I still have not explored. Perhaps a visit is in the cards in the future. I certainly hope so.
This week’s Wine Wednesday is dedicated to Abruzzo. A region that has seen its fair share of trouble this month with record snow falls, earthquakes, and an avalanche that claimed the lives of guests at a hotel and yesterday, a helicopter crash during a mountain rescue. It has been on my mind all month and I think of all those who live there. Certainly hardy folk as is evidenced by their long history and often rugged terrain. Luckily this spirit will help move beyond this terrible month and into a better moment in time. I have visited the region but not recently and have never been to their incredible parks, the Gran Sasso and the Maiella. They are also bordered by the Appenines and the Sibylline massif.
The winery I am writing about today is co-owned by someone I met years ago through a work contact, his father in fact. I have been following the amazing development of the winery these last years and have been impressed with these friendly, reliable wines that present good values as well. Talamonti makes both indigenous and international grapes. I was quite fond of Trabocchetto made from Pecorino. They are located in Loreto Aprutino, an area that has very old soils that are the remains of glaciers and volcanic ash. They are near the “Ghiacciaio del Calderone”, known to be “the southernmost glacier in Europe and the only one in the central Mediterranean area,” according to their website.
The winery was founded in 2001 by the Di Tonno family. They have 32 hectares in production with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino and other varietals. They are at 300 meters above sea level in the Tavo Valley region. The wines were all very well made and clean wines. Approachable, food friendly and inviting, I think Talamonti has a long and happy road ahead. I look forward to tasting the new vintages either at Vino or Vinitaly. They are very well distributed and nicely priced. Click here for a link to see if they are near you.
During my recent trip to the Douro Valley in September, we visited 15 wineries, four a day. As most press people know, that isn’t too many wineries, often you are asked to visit twice that number in one day. Yet even if it is only four wineries, journalists are never the same at the start of the day as they are at the end of it.
I know this from first hand experience, as the organizer of press trips and as a participant of other press trips led by different agencies. The mix of how many wineries, which wineries and where to take people is never easy. Couple that with people’s desire to read and check their own email and maybe do some work, it is a often a delicate balancing act. All of that said, these are first world wine writer problems as Gabe Sasso from Gabe’s View mentioned to me in an email weeks ago.
This week’s wine of the week is from a winery called Teoria. They are a young winery in the Douro, having started in 2010. They have four hectares. Located in Celeiró, in the Cima Corgo, the winery is owned by the couple in the picture, both are winemakers. Their winery was our last on one of the days we were traveling. Everyone was pretty tired and not as enthusiastic as we might have been at a different hour. That is until we met this couple and their smart daughter. They were lovely and their winery was in the most amazing location.
They had a hammock out back and frankly, I would have loved to stay there and sleep for an hour. It would have been great to have a picnic overlooking the vines as well. Their property was small but they had big plans and were doing it all on their own, building the infrastructure piece by piece.
I loved their can do spirit and found it to be an extremely relaxing place to hang out. They make five wines with the Douro DOC designation. Three reds and two whites. My favorite was their Teoria Old Vines Great Reserva 2013 made from port varieties Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. They couldn’t say the exact percentages because it was a field blend.
The wines had good acidity and minerality coming from the terroir. It was full bodied with big tannins, juicy fruit and lots of spice coming from the Touriga Nacional. It was a young wine when we tried it and I would like to see how it develops in a few years. Rosa, one of the winemaker-owners, is a wine judge. This wine in particular probably does well in competitions and would certainly please some American palates.
This year at Christmas and over the New Year’s holiday, my family and I opened a series of bottles that had been sitting in an old wine fridge. One of these wines was from J Lohr, a Cabernet Sauvignon from 1999. I didn’t expect to get such great fruit from this bottle after so many years and what I assume were not perfect storage condition. The wine was full bodied and rich with great color, lift and juicy tannins. It was a welcome surprise and we drank a toast to my Uncle who was the wine’s original owner. My uncle Tony had a true passion for wine and was the first collector I ever met. He was also my dear beloved uncle who passed away in 2013.
He left us a number of wines, albeit not his huge collection which was basically stolen by members of his second wife’s family but that is a long and sordid tale not for this wine blog. In any event, this wine had me thinking about trips to California and how many more there should be in the near term. This wine from Paso Robles is part of the J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines which today covers more than 1,300 acres of cool-climate estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands regions of Monterey County. The founder made a bet on French varietals over 40 years ago and I’d say he won it.
In the stores today you can find the 2014 vintage which they say on their website is a “strong one” and “reminiscent of 2004.” An interesting fact I discovered is that the Seven Oaks vineyard was initially planted on its own rootstock, such a rarity in the US. There are apparently different rootstocks and clones of cabernet used to augment the expressive qualities of this terroir which has gravel, clay and limestone in it on their property. I found one from the 2001 vintage that was priced at around $19. The latest vintages are selling for under $10, a pretty good wine for that price I dare say.