Tag Archives: Recommended

Tasting Note – Blue Water Unoaked Chardonnay

From a small winery over in Michigan’s Thumb (the southeast, but north of Detroit) that I visited last year.  I’m having this with mushroom risotto and mixed sauteed greens from my garden – I expect the steeliness of the wine will complement the turkey stock and the spiciness of the greens well.

Blue Water Unoaked Chardonnay (2013) Michigan – $16

Color: pale lemon-yellow.

Aroma: pear, lemon, asian pear, and jasmine.  Classic unoaked character on the nose.

Taste: big mouthful of pear and asian pear, quite lovely.  Not as sharp as a Sauvignon Blanc, but definitely crisp and this begs for food. The finish is really long and lush.

With the rice and greens this shines as well – I’d pair this with goat cheese, veal, pasta with cream sauces, or simple roast chicken.

Highly recommended, and a steal at $16.

 

New South African Producer: Leeuwenkuil

Got three new wines from at Morgan & York from a South African producer I’ve never seen before, Leeuwenkuil. They date back to 1693, so shame on me!

I tried the reds the other day with a grilled steak, and the white last night with a chicken dish that included a rhubarb and garlic pan sauce.

Leeuwenkuil Cinsault (2015) Swartland, South Africa – $22

Color: garnet red.

Aroma: red fruit and cedar.

Taste: fresh and bright – according to the label, they use carbonic maceration (the technique used for Beaujolais Nouveau) on some of the clusters to produce pure, young fruit notes. A hint of vanilla, and quite soft.  This isn’t up to a big beef dish but would be good for lamb, pork, or charcuterie.

Leeuwenkuil Grenache (2015) Swartland, South Africa – $22

Color: purplish-black.

Aroma: dark earthy notes and sweetish black fruit.

Taste: Chewy – leather, oak, dried fruit, lots of white pepper and black pepper. Oak and tannin on the finish.  It’s a bit hot at 14% alcohol, so make sure to chill this for a few minutes before serving in the summer.

I’m definitely a fan of this one over the Cinsault.  Needs a touch of air and chill.  Recommended.

Leeuwenkuil Grenache Blanc (2015) Voor Paardeberg, South Africa – $22

Color: medium gold.

Aroma: light – mostly floral and melon.

Taste: great balance of melon, citrus, pear, and minerality. The perfect amount of acidity for a good meal, and the minerality is especially appealing when paired with rhubarb.

Also recommended – compare to white Rhone varietals or blends.

Voor Paardeburg is a new appellation to me; from a bit of research I see it’s a subdistrict of Paarl, just north of Stellenbosch.

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.

Tasting Note: 2 Lads Cabernet Franc

One of my favorites from the Traverse City area of Michigan.  I’m enjoying this with onion-mushroom-olive pizza.  This has about 17% Merlot added.  When I tasted it at the winery last year I was very impressed by the nose – let’s see how it’s held up.

2 Lads Cabernet Franc (2013) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $32

Color: dark purplish in the center, fading just a bit to purple-red on the edge of the glass.

Aroma: earthy, with notes of black walnut and dark cherry.  Inviting!

Taste: nice and full, with enough acidity to make this a food wine, and a nice balance of cherry fruit and earth/oak notes throughout the mouth.  The finish is somehow creamy, fruity, and earthy all at once, and lasts at least 15 seconds.

A really, really good bottle of wine, perfect for anything from pizza to flank steak. Still one of my favorite Michigan wines.  Recommended!

 

 

Tasting Note – Hawthorne Barrel Reserve Chardonnay

From one of my trips up north last year – I’m having this with a cod, potato, and cabbage dish from Blue Apron.

Hawthorne Barrel Reserve Chardonay (2013) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $25

Color: straw yellow.

Aroma: lemon and Golden Delicious apple fruit, with just a touch of vanilla.

Taste: very well-balanced, and quite rich in texture – more apple fruit, with lemon underneath.  The oak and vanilla notes are subdued and harmonious; this is not a typical oaky Chard.  The finish is quite long, on both the mid-palate and the back of the tongue, and coats the mouth nicely with fruit and a hint of lanolin.

20170430_191040Pairing: it opens up a little more with some warmth and the food, and exhibits some tropical notes – especially pineapple. A great foil for the earthiness of the food.

Recommended! This easily competes with Chardonnays in the same price range from California.  I see from their website that this vintage is sold out now – if you were lucky enough to snag some, you’re in for a real treat.  I’ll be checking out more recent vintages soon.

Tasting Note – 2 Lads Pinot Grigio

Another wine club delivery from this last week – I’m having a glass as an aperitif before dinner.  It’s a 2016 vintage, which means it’s just recently been bottled.

2 Lads Pinot Grigio (2016) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $17

Color: very brassy and pale.

Aroma: lemon, vanilla, some green grassy and herbal notes.

Taste: crisp, with a touch of residual carbon dioxide that makes it lively on the tongue. The citrus notes are balanced by the herbal notes – like in a good Thai dish – and the overall impression is lively and refreshing.  This is a great cocktail hour white.

Recommended!

 

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.