Tag Archives: France

Rosé Roundup IV: Morgan & York

A nice shop on the south side of Ann Arbor (Packard, just south of Stadium).  They usually have something very interesting, but not always the value I’m looking for.  Their spring rosé selection as of mid-May was around 15 wines, so I made a judicious selection of six.

Cibonne Tentations (2016) Cotes de Provence, France – $18

Color: pale pink.

Aroma: yeasty, with raspberry fruit.

Taste: OK – some good berry fruit, and long on the finish.

Palatable; I’d drink this.

Pierre Morin (2016) Sancerre, France – $25

Color: still pale, but slightly darker than the Cibonne.

Aroma: darker fruit notes, mostly berry and cherry.

Taste: More acidity, good strawberry in the midpalate.

Sancerre is best known for its white wines (Sauvignon Blancs) but they also grow Pinot Noir for reds and rosés. This bottling, unfortunately, doesn’t show off the Pinot well – $25 is too steep for this.

G. D. Vajra Rosabella (2016) Italy – 17

Color: light pink.

Aroma: strawberry!

Taste: lots of acidity, like a good strawberry shortcake! Bright and zippy up front, the a long and tart finish.

This is produced in the Barolo region, but no official indication of what varieties they are using – Nebbiolo, Dolcetta, and Barbera would be typical grapes in that part of Italy.

Domaine des Cassagnoles Rosé Plaisir (2016) Cotes de Gascogne – $13

Color: medium pink to copper.

Aroma: berries, a little darker than most, some earthiness.

Taste: richer, with a touch of tannin. Some Grenache in this?

Not quite as long on the finish as the Italian, but a better mouthfeel throughout and much more suitable for food.  My favorite of the bunch.

Pierre-Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” (2016) Beaujolais Rosé, France – $18

Color: pale pink.

Aroma: nice red currants and floral nose.

Taste: Good mouthful of fruit – better balanced than most.  Some tannin on the finish.

Nice; this is better for an aperitif or a light meal.

Chateau de Manissy “La Belle Etoile” (2016) IFP Mediterranee, France – $12

Color: medium pink to orange.

Aroma: sweetish red fruits and berries.

Taste: lots of berry up front, then dull in the midpalate. The finish is short but full of fruit.

Decent, not great.  Also better for cocktail hour.


Out of everything I’ve tasted, the Domaine de Cassagnoles from Gascony is the winner, especially for the money.  I’m recommending it.  I’ve ordered a case and that should last me through the summer.


Rosé Roundup III: A & L Wine Castle

A couple of pinks from this store on the west side of Ann Arbor; I’m a fan of the Cabernet Franc rosé from Mulderbosh – let’s see how the Cab Sauv treats me.

Unparalleled Rosé (2016) Coteaux Varois en Provence, France – $16

Color: extremely pale.

Aroma: Rose petal and raspberry.

Taste: Melon, apricot, raspberry – quite tart.

OK, but not great.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvingon Rosé (2016) Coastal Region, South Africa – $11

Color: medium straight pink.

Aroma: uncertain – more flowery than anything else.

Taste: Cabernet body, with red currant, raspberry, and cherry.

A good value, but not quite as much oomph as I’m looking for.


Tasting Note: HB Picpoul de Pinet

PicpHB_picpouloul de Pinet is one of those fairly obscure white grapes from the south of France (also known as Folle Blanche) that is absolutely adored in its home region, and nearly ignored elsewhere.  It’s a great picnic white, as it typically has great fruit and floral notes, isn’t oaked, and tastes just as well right out of the ice-bucket and after it’s warmed up in your glass for a half-hour.

HB (2015) Picpoul de Pinet, France – $11

Color: pale yellow-green.

Aroma: crisp, with citrus and honeysuckle.

Taste: right on the mark between crisp and full in the mouth, with a hint of candied-fruit sweetness in the midpalate and a very long, full finish. More citrus notes, but also green apple and a touch of jasmine.  Absolutely lovely.

This pairs exceedingly well with my catfish, as it’s served with Japanese noodles and vegetables; the ginger and the lushness of the wine go very nicely together.

A great value wine, highly recommended!  This is a wonderful alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.

2016 Beaujolais Nouveau roundup

It’s that time again!  I’ve got 3 examples of the special early wine from the Beaujolais region in France, made with the Gamay grape.  One of these is an old standby, and two of the brands are new to me.  So let’s get at it!

Albert Bichot Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau (2016) France – $15

Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Nouveau (2016) France – $12

Georges DuBouef Beaujolais Nouveau (2016) France – $12

Color: All three have a solid, red color, without any wateriness.  That said, Manoir de Carra is one shade lighter than the other two.

Aroma: Albert Bichot is the clear winner – plenty of ripe cherries, with kirsch and some hard-candy aromas to follow.  The Manoir de Carra isn’t quite so dense, but still pleasant.  DuBouef has a sweeter nose, also dominated by cherries, but the banana/hard-candy/bubblegum complex is close behind.

Taste: Again, tip of the hat to Albert Bichot – rich and full, with a good length on the finish, and a solid food-friendly complex across the tongue.  Cherry and berry flavors predominate, but there are some dusty bramble notes as well.  DuBouef is made in a similar style, but doesn’t fill the mouth as nicely, and drops off relatively quickly.  Manoir du Carra is a lighter and more acidic style – I think this would be a good aperitif or tailgate wine, and it’s great for the folks who absolutely love cranberries.

Bottom line – the Albert Bichot is highly recommended.  It’s a great wine for Thanksgiving or holiday parties, and I think it’s just fine with a nice dinner as well – I’m making a sage-crusted pork roast right now and am highly anticipating the rest of the bottle!  It’s imported by European Wine Imports in Cleveland – they distribute in quite a few states, so ask your local retailer about getting access to this wine.


Pairing: Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages and Salmon

Made a Blue Apron recipe tonight for dinner – #958 Seared Salmon and Sauce Gribiche, with mashed potatoes, summer beans & cherry tomatoes.

First, notes on the meal: really good, except too much tarragon! I’d never had sauce gribiche before, but it’s a no-brainer: start as if you were making deviled eggs, except smash everything together – white, yolk, mayo, mustard, relish, plus tarragon or chervil or parsley.  The salmon was simply pan-fried, the mashed potatoes used olive oil, a touch of vinegar, shallots, and tarragon. The string beans & cherry tomatoes were done as a sauté with some garlic.

Now, to the wine.

Joseph Drouhin (2013) Macôn-Villages, Burgundy – $17

Color: a solid golden-yellow

Aroma: Lemon curd, a hint of lemon meringue pie, and some toast

Taste: Very clean, very typical for this appellation – mellow lemon and crisp pear.  Handled the tarragon in the potatoes and sauce gribiche very well, but not quite enough oomph for the salmon.

Not quite good enough to be recommended, but if you’ve never had French Chardonnay before, this is an excellent place to start.  No butter, no overwhelming oak, and a much lighter texture – the definition of a food-friendly Chardonnay.  Try it with chicken breast or a basic white fish.

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce

One of my favorite dishes from France – and I’ve found rabbit in the supermarket here outside Ann Arbor, so I’ll be making this every week or two! Farm-raised rabbit is lean but tender, with a unique flavor and a firm texture. Plus the bones make amazing stock!

20140426_113801Lapin a la Moutarde (Rabbit in Mustard Sauce)

  • 1 rabbit, cleaned and dressed – approx 1.5 to 2 pounds
  • 3 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme, or 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups dry white wine (anything *except* oaky Chardonnay)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  1. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Rub the rabbit pieces with salt, pepper, and thyme. Then brown them briefly In the olive oil in a large, heavy casserole, turning to cook all sides.
  3. Add the wine and shallots. Cover and cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, take the rabbit pieces out and cover them. Strain the pot liquid to remove the shallots, and return the liquid to the casserole, placing it on the range top on medium heat.  Using a wooden spoon and a whisk, use the pot liquid to deglaze the sides of the casserole, then add the cream, butter, and mustard. Whisk vigorously to combine and let it thicken slightly.

Serve the rabbit with fried potatoes or roasted vegetables, and nap the meat and sides with the mustard sauce.  Serves 4 – make sure everyone has plenty of napkins, because you’re going to want to use your teeth to get down to the bones!

Le Versant Viognier

Catching up on some tasting notes from the last week or two – between a bad internet connection at home and some extra hours on the job, I haven’t had enough time to blog!

Viognier is one of my favorite white grapes; it makes a full-bodied wine with loads of aroma and a lively palate, without the heavy oak that goes with Chardonnay. I’m enjoying this with a simple mushroom risotto.

Le Versant Viognier (2012) Pays d’Oc, France – $12

Photo0376Color: medium-gold, with good viscosity.

Aroma: a nice mix of floral perfume and white peaches.

Taste: more on the crisp side than is usual for a varietal Viognier, then a fuller mouthfeel towards the back of the mouth. Flavor notes include peach, apricot, Golden Delicious apple, and apple blossoms.

Decent enough for dinner, but not show-stoppingly good.