When you think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines you are most likely to think about a red wine, because that is what the region is best known for. Most, myself included, seldom if ever would think “I’d like a white Châteauneuf today.” However, there are some out there and having recently found one I was intrigued to try it. One most also remember that even the great red wines can have some white varietals blended in under the classification laws.
The principal white grapes grown include Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc. Lesser white varietals include Roussanne, Picpoul and Picardan. And just like the red wines, most, if not all, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blancs are blends of at least a couple and often 3 or 4 of these varietals. It is often difficult to locate exact ratios, and that is the case with this one. From the limited information I was able to find it would appear that the 2008 vintage is a blend of the 3 principal white varietals along with some Roussanne.
Some information found on the Chateau Lynch-Bages site indicates that this particular Domaine is one of the oldest in the region. It located on one of the noble “plateaus” in the region and consists of 27 hectares of vineyard with only 3 hectares devoted to white varietals.
The nose was rich and layered, with suggestions of apricot and figs. As it opened up, the nose developed softer nuances and hinted of honey. The initial mouthfeel of this was somewhat rich and oily, somewhat suggestive of a German Riesling without the sweetness. As it opened, subtle white pepper spice mingled with floral aromatics and peach. The finish seemed to last forever, with bright toast and vanilla notes.
Like the red wines from Châteuneuf-du-Pape, these are not inexpensive wines. This one listed for $45 a bottle, but I found it on a clearance sale for half-price. Even at that, this is not for everyday consumption. And while 2008 seems like it is old for a white wine, like many other French whites these seem to hold up fairly well with some age. Most of the reviews for this vintage suggest a drinking range of between 2010 and 2015-2018. Personally, I think that it is drinking well now and do not see that it will improve much at all. If you happen across it, or are sitting on some in your cellar I would suggest not waiting to enjoy it.
A couple of days ago I happened to be in an ABC Fine Wine & Spirits location and decided to pick up a couple of bottles of wine to try. Reading the back label of this wine, exclusive to ABC Fine Wine & Spirits in Florida, it sounded pretty tasty and was reasonably priced so I decided to give it a go.
Bottled by Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, the wine is a blend of 46% zinfandel, 18% barbera, 17% syrah, 14% tempranillo and 5% grenache. Looked at the varietals represented we expected something that would have some earthiness, perhaps some red fruit and a bit of a spicy kick to it.
The initial nosing was good, with nuances of red fruit, loam and spice. On the initial palate it was more fruit forward than we would have liked, showing lots of jammy cherry. By mid-palate the cinnamon spice started to pick up which helped to balance it out somewhat though it was still a bit more fruit forward that we would normally like. We did not notice a lot of tannins to be expressing themselves, suggesting a wine meant to drink young. As the wine opened with some aeration it began to show better balance between fruit and spice. The finish was moderate but otherwise unremarkable.
We carried this bottle into a simple meal of spicy chicken sausage with Spanish rice, onions and bell peppers. Against the backdrop of this aggressively spiced dish, we found that the fruit forwardness worked as a good counterpoint and made it much more palatable to us. Therefore, we would recommend this one to be served with spicier dishes as opposed to as a sipping wine.
At the last monthly wine tasting hosted by Michael’s Wine Cellar I was fortunate enough to find this delightful grenache from the Southern Rhone region of France. This wine is imported by Robert Kacher Selections, out of New York, which is known for exceptional wine values.
The 2010 bottling is 100% grenache. It is labeled as a Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, meaning that it is a simple table wine from the Vauclude appellation. Of course, I would say that there is nothing simple about this wine at all. It retails here in Sarasota for $11.95 which puts it into my everyday wine list.
The initial nose is reserved spice notes with hints of black fruit, recessed spice and mocha nuances. On the palate it opens up with solid black fruit, well balanced spice and a long, lingering finish. There are slight tannins present but I think that this is drinking reallly well now and probably will continue to do so for several years but I would not recommend keeping it cellared for more than 3-4 years at most (not that this should be an issue considering how tasty it is now!)
While recently visiting the local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits store near us, I found a couple of interesting wines and this is the first of those that I have tried. This particular wine is part of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits “Direct to You” program, which are wines that they are sourcing and brining directly into their distribution channel. So, at least in Florida, if you want to try this one you are going to have to purchase it at an ABC Fine Wine & Spirits store. Be aware however that this vintage is 2 behind what has been released by the producer (on their website they feature the 2012 vintage). They recommend consumption within 18 months of release, although I found it to still be drinking well.
Domaine de Pellehaut has been owned and managed by the Beraut family for over 300 years! Located in the commune of Montreal (historically Montreal-du-Gers) in Southwest France this wine is classified as a Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne. The rose is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Syrah though there are not specific percentages that I could find. The varietals are picked and vintified individually before being blended into the final product. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats and after fermentation is complete the wine is allowed to sit on their lees to maximize the fruit aromas. Before bottling, the wine is fined and filtered.
The intitial nose faintly reminded me of petrol with sharp red fruit and wildflower nuances. The color is a darker salmon, though I suspect some of the darker color is the result of the age as the winery indicates in their tasting notes a lighter color. The palate is big and rich, almost creamy in texture, with rose petal, raspberry and white peppercorn notes. The finish is moderately long and well balanced. There is also a good bit of acidity, which would make this ideal with food.
Overall, I think this was a good effort. I always appreciate a rose during the hotter summer months and this, while not outstanding, was certainly very good. Regularly priced at $10, ABC was running a sale and I was able to pick it up for $8.99 which made it a very good value. My only concern would be the lack of the current release vintage being available.
Around the beginning of the year, I was pondering how I might be more engaged in the industry that I love so much about and whether I could make a living in it. So, I began casting out a somewhat loose net looking at a variety of opportunities that might let me translate my passion into a career. While I wound up not making a move at the time, I was fortunate it enough to have several opportunities to discover some new wines.
One of the opportunities I considered was to come on board with a local importer that was seeking to expand into direct distribution. Being an relatively small importer of predominately South American wines, I realized that most of the portfolio I had never even heard of much less tasted. So, I took myself down to one of the local shops that I knew carried some of the product and bought up one of each to give them a try. I am extremely pleased at some of the choices I made, and will be posting some additional tasting notes on some of the other ones in the near future.
For now however, I wanted to share this 2011 Chardonnay from the Maule Valley in Chile. As many readers well know, I am not a fan generally of chardonnay and certainly not when they have been overly oak-fermented as many domestic ones are. However, I can readily appreciate the natural profile of a steel-fermented chardonnay, which lets the grape speak for itself. This is a great example of such an animal.
The wine is a golden straw-yellow color, with a nose of tropical pineapple fruit, vanilla and almond. A more medium-to-full bodied mouth really satuarates the palate with the ripe fruit and a lingering finish lets the drinker revel in the citrus follow-through. Being steel-fermented, there is no toastiness or oaky nuances to interfer with the beauty of the wine.
This wine is also extremely well priced, at $12 retail. I would pair this up with a summer salad or perhaps some grilled chicken and asparagus for a delightful meal.
I tasted a half-bottle of this back in February 2010 (you can read that review here). In looking back at my tasting notes from then, there really is not too much more to say about this wine. It continues to evolve very nicely, albeit slowly. I would revise my aging estimate somewhat and suggest that this could well go 30+ years and still be quite lively. The nose and palate continue to be extremely closed down until some good aeration has time to open it up. The first pour out of this bottle I gave over an hour before approaching and it was just beginning to show the bright acidity and sweet fruit. I still have several bottles of this stuck back in the cellar and am going to move them farther back so I quite drinking them so young! Maybe in 5-10 years I will revisit this wonderful wine.