Monthly Archives: November 2013

Drinking Tonight: Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec

Recovering from the turkey yesterday with some salad and cheese. Just a simple little Malbec to set off the caramelized-onion cheddar.

This wine is named after the family matriarch, one of the wave of Italian immigrants who settled in Argentina in the 19th century and formed the backbone of their wine industry.

Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec (2011) Mendoza, Argentina – $10

Photo0280Color: dark, dark purple.

Aroma: not that big, but a good balance between plummy fruit and nutmeg-ginger-pepper spice.

Taste: dense and full – more spice, plums, and blueberry. The tannins really hit you on the finish, along with some oaky vanilla and more nutmeg. Surprisingly long finish.

A pretty good bottle for just $10 – pick some up if you see it.


Thanksgiving Pairing: Cosmia Pinot Noir

A cheap Pinot from Trader Joe’s to go with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie – we had 5 different desserts this year!

Cosmia Pinot Noir (2012) Sonoma County, California – $9

Photo0281Color: bright garnet red.

Aroma: fruit dominates on the nose – raspberry mostly.

Taste: Big fruit up front – raspberry, cherry, cranberry – and then just a touch of meatiness on the finish. A nice choice for the cranberry-sauce lovers. The finish is better than you’d expect for the price – long and balanced.

A pretty good deal for the money – I’d stock up on this if you’re serving any kind of poultry or game between now and the New Year. Recommended.

Drinking Tonight: Laurent Reverdy Sancerre

Sancerre is one of the great Sauvignon Blanc appellations of France. It’s located in the middle of the picturesque Loire Valley, with medieval chateaux and vineyards on both banks of the river. I picked this up from Trader Joe’s over the weekend. It’s a fair price for Sancerre.

Laurent Reverdy (2010) Sancerre – $17 

Photo0275Color: very pale golden yellow.

Aroma: lots of apple and pear notes, as well as some floral aromas – jasmine, I think, and apple blossoms.

Taste: soft and balanced – you will not mistake this for something from New Zealand. Apple and pear notes again on the tongue, along with a touch of melon and just a tiny bit of lemon curd and tangerine. There’s a bit of minerality in this as well, but it takes time to pick it out, as it’s woven through the body.

Lovely and delicate – try this with a seafood salad, Recommended!

Winetasting Report: Charles Shaw Nouveau

This is the coda to my tasting of the Beaujolais Nouveau earlier in the week. There are other winemakers throughout the world who also do a nouveau style, with the same carbonic maceration process as is used in Beaujolais. This bottle is not varietally labelled, but the major grape for Nouveau wines in California is usually Valdadigue. It was formerly known as “Napa Gamay” (since Gamay is the grape variety grown in Beaujolais), but recent research has shown that there is no such variety, and truth-in-labelling laws requires that the term Napa Gamay no longer be used.

Charles Shaw Nouveau (2013) California – $3.70

Photo0273Color: a good bright color, exactly what you’d expect in a Nouveau.

Aroma: cherry and raspberry, with just a hint of banana underneath.

Taste: you know, this isn’t bad at all. Cherry fruit, with good acidity and balance, and a decent finish to boot. This is actually better than the Georges DuBoeuf!

Winetasting Report: Trader Joe’s

Had to be down in Kettering today, so I timed my errands to do some shopping and taste wine. Bill had some interesting stuff on the table – the first you can find anywhere, the other three are Trader Joe’s exclusives.

Marques de Caceres Rosé (2012) Rioja, Spain – $10

Not a usual time of the year for a rosé tasting, but you should consider serving this with your turkey! It has a solid pink color, is fresh, and has loads of fruit. Not too acidic, either. This is delicious, and a good price for rosé – recommended.

Edition Maximillien Spatlese Riesling (2010) Rheingau, Germany – $11.50

Rheingau is one of the smaller wine regions in Germany – always a good thing to look for, since so many Germany wines are blended from dozens of individual plots. This has big sweet apple tastes – both Golden Delicious and Granny Smith – along with a nice kick of lime zest to keep it balanced. Nice and lively – very good quality. Not my usual style, but something to have with camembert and apple slices while you sit around the fire. Also recommended.

Edition Maximillien Pinot Noir (2010) Rheingau, Germany – $10.50

Very light in color and taste both. It’s a ripe, feminine style with just berry fruit and no earthiness at all. Unfortunately, it’s just too light for most people’s palates. I wouldn’t buy this unless you were a real aficionado of Germany wines, since it’s one of the few reds you’ll see from there on the US market.

Louise d’Estree Brut (NV) France – $10

This is a basic, non-vintage, no-appellation bubbly from France – but it’s made in the traditional manner with fermentation in the bottle. It’s light and clean – not bad for such an inexpensive bottle – but I prefer the Spanish Cavas in the same price range.

Winetasting Report: Beaujolais Nouveau 2013

I was able to duck into Arrow last night and try some of the Beaujolais Nouveau for this year. Overall, it’s an average year; nothing hateful, but 2011 was definitely better.

Joseph Drouhin $14

The nose is just a little off. Tighter than usual, with a little less fruit. Good balance, though – this is more like a regular Beaujolais than a Nouveau. OK. 

Bouchard Aine et Fils $12

Big fruit aromas and on the palate. Lots of cranberry! Pretty good – buy this for your Thanksgiving dinner.

Georges DuBoeuf $12

A little green on the nose, then flat and a little metallic tasting. Not good.

Domaine Rochette $14

The most complex of the bunch. Cranberry and cherry fruit, with just enough acidity. Pretty rich and dense, as well. Best of the bunch!


It’s Beaujolais Nouveau Thursday!!

Oui!  Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arriveé!

Today is the 3rd Thursday in November – which means it’s the worldwide release date for the first bottles of Northern Hemisphere 2013 wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is made using a special process so that it can be fermented and settled quickly, to be available before the end of the year.

Originally, this was a harvest festival wine. The farmers in the Beaujolais region would put part of their wine crop as whole bunches into sealed containers. Then they would ferment the rest of their grapes normally, harvest the wheat and rye, smoke some hams, dig up the turnips, etc. When the bulk of the fall harvest work was done, they could celebrate by opening the first fruits of the vine. It’s no coincidence that Beaujolais Nouveau and our American Thanksgiving occur within a week of each other!

After World War II, Georges DuBoeuf – a major grower in Beaujolais – popularized the Nouveau style throughout France, the rest of Europe, and other parts of the wine-drinking world. There’s a wacky midnight race across the English Channel with outlandish boats, French restaurants in the US stayed open until midnight last night so they could pour the first bottles at 12:01, and lots of wine shops will be featuring Nouveau on tastings and special menus this week.

When it’s done right, Beaujolais Nouveau is an incredibly bright, vibrant, and fruity wine – just perfect for turkey with cranberry sauce! In off years, however, it can sometimes smell like bananas and taste flat and boring. You never know until you crack the bottle – and it’s very hard for producers to be consistent from year to year, so I don’t have a favorite brand. I try a couple, and then stock up on the good ones.

I’ll be out and about this afternoon, and will report on the Nouveau wines tomorrow and Saturday – stay tuned!