National Rosé Day Pre-Gaming!!

Everyone shows up for Rosé pre-game. Dragonflies especially. This Domaine Loubegac Willamette Rosé hits all the right notes–and lots of them.  Cling peaches, apricot, ripe yellow Apple and strawberry with a bouquet of yellow and white flowers.  Gorgeous. Thank you Beth Ogden for the introduction. #Rosé #Willamette #NationalRoséDay #BethOgden

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Riesling- It Lights Me Up!

When it comes to Riesling, the wine market has a split personality.   You have the people who enjoy sweet wines and love drinking sweet Riesling.  Then, you have the people who hate sweet wine and, therefore, won’t drink Riesling.  But if you are in-the-know… You can fall in love with dry but fruity, racy but voluptuous, bold but elegant,  Riesling.  The trick is standing in the aisle and figuring out which Riesling is which.

img_5801Albert Mann Riesling Cuvee Albert 2014.   Vin D’Alsace.  I bought a case of this wine un-tried and un-tasted.  Most Alsatian Rieslings are on the dry side of the spectrum, so I felt comfortable with my purchase.  Once, I opened it and took my first sip, I had this insane desire to hug the bottle to my chest and shout “Mine!!!!”  However, since I am in the business of selling wine and always love to share my good deals (clothes, shoes and good lawn care, included), I instead started pouring this wine for everyone to try.  It was universally enjoyed because this Alsatian Riesling has something for everyone.

The aromas of Albert Cuvee leap out of the glass and perform a pirouette.  There is that first whiff of diesel gasoline that whirls with the fragrance of white and yellow flowers and candied ginger.  People often call that smell Petrol, but I haven’t pumped enough European gas to know the difference.  What I do know is that the aroma is iconic to several terroirs of Riesling, particularly when aged.  Moving on to the first sip… This Riesling trumpets flavors of ripe, sweet lemon, lime, tart green apple skins, ginger.  It coats the tongue with a little lanolin and then washes the coating away  with bursting, citrus acidity like lemonade.  Who doesn’t like lemonade?  Particularly on a hot day!  The mouth-watering flavors linger for a nice, long finish.  Wow.  I enjoyed just re-living the memory of it!!  The alcohol by volume (ABV) is 12.5%… typical for Alsatian Rieslings.   They have long, dry, beautiful summer days making gorgeously ripe grapes.

So, how do you capimageture this sublime moment?  First off,  you probably won’t want to look for this type of quality wine at your average grocery story.   What you want to do vist an upscale local wine store or big box liquor store.  Often, they  will have a specific Riesling section.

Some wineries may include  the term “Dry”, on their label.  Dry can be a relative term as it is not legally defined.  Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling from the  Finger Lakes region of New York is dry  with bright flavors of lemon-lime, grapefruit and honey.  Notice the 12.5% ABV.

Some Riesling labels will have a sweet to dry scale on the back label, which is a nice idea, because the average person hasn’t memorized the Kabinett, Spatlase, Auslase, Trockenbeerenauslese of German labeling and most Riesling regions have not come up with a wine labeling plan for sweetness levels.  Dr. Loosen’s Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett  one example of  a Riesling showing  a sweetness level scale.  (I’ve included a few other examples, as well.)  Dr. Loosen  balances on the scale at Medium Sweet.  The ABV is 7.5%  The label also recommends this wine with spicy foods which is spot on for sweeter Rieslings.  Nothing quenches the fire of hot and spicy Thai curry like a sweet to medium dry Riesling.

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All the above noted ABV’s point to another tip  for making a Dry/Sweet determination.   Look at the alcohol on the label.  A 12.5% ABV can indicate that all the sugar in the ripe grapes was converted to alcohol during fermentation, so there isn’t a lot of sweetness left in the juice.  Therefore, wines with a higher ABV are usually dryer.  A 7.5% ABV generally reflects that there is still sugar remaining in the wine that has not been converted to alcohol.  Definitely sweeter.   That is a general rule.  IMG_5835

If you are new to Riesling, on a budget or just serving a bunch of your friends during a hot summer day, Clean Slate Riesling from Mosel,Germany  (ABV 11.0%) is a fun starter wine from one of the lower shelves. $8-ish.  Medium-dry and tasting of lime and stone fruit, this very inexpensive Riesling still shows some of its regional minerality.  Not remotely as complex and gorgeous as the Albert Cuvee, but I’ve shared it with friends over some everyday Asian cuisine and on theIMG_5839 patio in the summer –everyone smiled.

Another fine example is Famille Hugel Classic Riesling 2014 from Alsace.  In the $20 range, this Riesling is dry and flavorful with lime, peaches and ginger.  (ABV 12.7%)  This wine is elegant and I would love it with some grilled white fish, seafood or even sashimi.

Just to keep it interesting, I have to mention this Ulrich Langguth Riesling Trocken 2014 Deutcher Seckt.  A sparkling German Riesling from the Mosel region.  It makes a nice aperitif .  $13-ish in price.  Easy to drink and delightfully dry (ABV 12.0%).   Trocken means dry in German, so that helps.   Sekt refers to the fact it is sparkling.   Try this instead of Prosecco or Cava.  Your guests will be excited to experience a  different sparkling wine.

Well, this was fun!!  Enjoy your day!

What Was in THAT Glass!?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a Rose tasting for the trade, along with a master class on Rose led by Master Sommelier, Gillian Banlace.  I won a lunch with Gillian and other guests the following day.  While waiting for a table, I ordered Rose. The waitress suggested a Brut Rose.  We never discussed which one.  She just brought me a glass and I drank about half before the group arrived and we moved onto other wines…great wines, I must add.  But the flavor, texture, and freshness of this Rose lingered long after lunch was done…well into this week.  So, I’m back at Brasserie 19 for the reveal. Veuve Cliquot Brut Rose (NV) with  enticing flavors of watermelon, cherry and cotton candy.  Almond toast finish. Dry, but luscious at the same time.  I am feeling very indulged.  

The Cliquot Champagne house was founded in 1772 by Philippe Cliquot.  It is believed to be the first Champagne house to produce Rose Champagne (Pinot Noir).   Fine Rose champagne has since always been the Cliquot house trademark.  Barbe-Nichole Ponsardin, an educated young woman, married Philippe’s son, Francois, in 1798.  She was  left a widow in 1805.   Because she had been included in Francois’ passion for and the running of his winery, the widow Cliquot (Veuve means widow) was able to take over the champagne house.   Very unique for a woman in that day in time.   Additionally, she went on to make revolutionary changes in the production of fine Champagne that are still used today.  Fine being the key word.  Veuve Cliquot has always been about making  quality Champagne.   Thank you, Madame Cliquot.  I raise a toast to you.  

Improvise the vessel!!

My husband says our Rose choice is  wet, cold and drinks well!   I think he’s right!  What does it matter if we enjoy it in a wine glass or a small soup bowl??Scarpetta Timido Brut Rose Sixth Edition (Non Vintage).  Yeasty, dark cherries and berries with a hint of peach.    Heavier than a rose from Provence and with a bit of dry tannin.  The wine held up well to our Asian dinner of Razor Clams, Peppered Lobster and Fish Soup.  All these dishes were a bit spicy.  A little more sweetness in the wine would have been good, but that is a my pairing problem and not the fault of the wine.  Sometimes it’s just what wine you have available in the fridge. Our waitress eventually brought wine glasses, but soup cups worked just as well while we waited.  She eventually decided to try a taste of the Rose herself.  She looked around for a glass and then picked up a small soup bowl from another clean table.  We may have started a trend. 

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Italian Syrah Strikes Again!!

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There are days when you just have to say, “I love my life!!”  The wine tasting I went to last night gave me great reason to say so.  The owner/winemaker of Leuta Winery in Cortona, Italy, Denis Zeni,  was in town looking to move his distribution further west than the Northeastern restaurants that currently purchase much of his  export wine to the United States.  My life was further rewarded when I found that Leuta Wines grow Syrah and have a 100% Syrah in their portfolio (see my blog post The Rise(?) of Italian Syrah).  And even further upping my happiness ante, Denis makes kvevri wines with vines originating from Georgia (formerly of the Soviet Union).  Most people have heard of wines made in clay amphora (kvevri), but they are few and far between.  I had only recently read an in-depth article about this type of winemaking in Georgia and Portugal… and found it providence that I would meet a winemaker a week later employing similar methods for some of his very special wines.  Another future treat!!

Good wines are best served with good stories.  Denis knows that and he told his story well.  He grew up and spent large portions of his life with his grandfather in Trentino.  His grandfather was a farmer of  both food crops and grapes for wine.  His passion was for the wine.   He passed away and the land was sold.  Denis went into economics, banking, and investments for many years, but his spare time was spent pursuing his fascination with grape growing and winemaking in each hemisphere and many countries.  He eventually purchased the Cortona land that is now Leuta Winery and he is the hands-on decision maker, charting the course of his vineyards.  Denis explains that he chose the soil, the layout of his vineyards, the concentration of plantings, the winery equipment and how the grapes are grown, harvested and how wines are made.  Super organically, I might add!!   Denis is also working on making the process vegan, as well.

So, how good were the wines??  They were Very Good!!!!!  I am the frugal wine drinker, but I had no problem purchasing Leuta wines.  I am looking forward to the delivery of his Syrah, Sangiovese and Cab Franc.  The wines are very clean and modern in the best of ways.  New French oak is used judiciously, so these wines are not reeking of toasted vanilla.  The  2013 Leuta Syrah Cortona was big on blackberry, dark plum, pepper and spice with a little fresh potting soil.  The wine was refreshing.  I thought the Leuta Merlot was excellent, but I kept returning to the Syrah to freshen my palate and indulge my myself again!!  The Leuta Sangiovese was my second favorite — well crafted and elegant.

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My thanks to Bill & Stephanie Lloyd for including us in your gathering and to Christin Hartung for being a lovely hostess.  Leuta Wines have a wine club (a very wise business plan) that has nice benefits, especially if you are in the Cortona area.  I think Denis picked up quite a few new members (as he should!) from this gathering!  Check out the website leuta-wines-cortona.com    Although Leuta is a small, boutique, estate winery, you will see that Denis has used his business background to promote his beautiful wines in a very organized, user-friendly way.  As an American capitalist… I love it.

 

 

My Pink Heaven

img_5726First, let me get past the myth that have so many of you as Pink Haters.  There wasn’t one sweet wine among the twenty or thirty that I tasted.   Sweet pink existed!  There was pink Moscato.  But sweet pink was not on my radar.  I was looking for dry pink.  Pink with some bubbles.   Pink with a little tannin (that’s right!).  Pink with a little attitude.  I found all the pink I could possibly love and I left a swath of iced down, delicious pink still untasted… being enjoyed by other pink lovers…who had more time than I did.  It hurt to leave.  But the effort of leaving just kept me wanting more.  God, I really do love good Rosé!!  I admit… I  even like medicore rosé.

Yesterday, Houston was home to pink.  A treasure trove of Rosé (thank you Southern Glazers) put out for buyers to sip through and determine what pinks should grace their wine list for the summer…or even all year through.  I was lucky to be there.  What is my favorite Rosé?  I’m still enjoying the looking, but here are a few that talked to me.

Casata Monfort Pinot  Grigio Romato.  This is an Italian Rosé made from a grape we consider to be a white wine grape–Pinot Grigio.  However, Pinot Grigio grapes have a lot of color in their skin and this wine was created to be a Rosé.  Skin contact with the juice gives the wine its coppery color and also some  unique complexity.  $20-ish

Palmer Brut Rose. Amazing.  Bubbles.  Could not spit this!  $75(?).  Spendy but so worth it.

Paul Cheneau Brut Rose.  This was the most unique of the pink bubbles I tried because it was dry and loaded with, of all things, dark fruit flavor.  Blackberry  and dark cherry bubbles.  Who knew? Lots of fun.    $15.

Pleasant Hill Sangiovese Rose.  This 2016 Rose hails from Brenham, Texas.  Pink is even better when its local and this local is great.

Lageder Lagrein Rosato from Alto Adige.   Another excellent Italian Rosé  $18-ish.

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Moet and Veuve Cliquot had a great presence… but I never made it to that side of the room.  Whispering Angel and Miravel showed up, too.  But you have already heard about them, I’m sure.  They are top sellers in the United States, respectively.  They have helped put Rosé in your shopping cart.  You are putting Rosé in your shopping cart??!!

To add icing to my pretty pink cake, the Southern Glazers offered up a Rosé Master Class led by Gillian Balance, Master Sommlier.  It was an Old World vs. New World tasting and both came up as winners.  Three tiers of Chateau Minuty rosés Cote de Provence) made up the Old World entrants.    The Chatea Minuty 281 retails for over $60.  Talk about a serious Rosé!!  And it was awesome!!  Matua Pinot Noir Rosé (Marlborough, New Zealand), Chateau St. Jean Bijou Rosé (California)  and A by Acacia Rosé (Napa Valley) were the New World offerings.  Slightly darker in color.  A bit less acidity.  All the wines were fresh, dry, enjoyable and lovable.