Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Seafood "quandary": Dorices Muscadet Sevre-Maine Choisie at your service!

Honestly folks, I've lived my entire life in San Diego and until recently, San Diego hardly figured in anyone’s mind as a culinary destination. However in the last 10 years, San Diego chefs (natives and newcomers alike) have redefined the local dining landscape. That said, these folks have drawn on several local strengths. First and foremost, San Diego’s local [Seafood] bounty has few equals: the freshest seafood, four-season produce from some of the country’s most renowned organic farms, and local specialty purveyors of cheese and chocolate. But Seafood and what to pair with it wine-wise is the focus of this review.

This wine I'm about to review is what I would call the underdog of the wine world, not often picked for the first or even second string when a restaurant wine list is being compiled or being shopped for by consumers. While San Diego is blessed with an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish, yet one of the world's great Seafood wines is about as well-known here as snow storm in July.

What is that you may ask, none other than Muscadet, a white wine from France's Loire region that's as crisp as a freshly built Cub-Cadet mower [just screams Spring is here] and as fine a complement to all manner of good things from the sea as the water they once swam in. Produced from the humble Melon de Bourgogne grape, Muscadet's appeal is not in its great complexity but its refreshing, straightforward lemon-lime and grapefruit flavors and bracing minerality.

First Swirl: After pouring this wine into my glass I found in looking at the core it was a pale green [think honey dew melon] colored core and followed by a watery rim.

First Sniff: Sticking my fat half Irish nose into the glass I find offers a mix of lime, thyme, and lemon verbena notes.

First Sip: After giving this wine a good swirl in the glass I found this wine to be a delightfully refreshing and dominated by citrus, salt, chalk, and green apple. While one can’t call it complex, its combination of textural polish, mouth-watering purity, and invigoration. Nicely textured from beginning to end with nice weight and a fantastically long, juicy finish.

Show me the money: Part of this wines appeal can be found in its price, while many Muscadets may display the crispness of a brand-spanking-new greenback, it costs remarkably few of them, almost always less than $15 and coming in at all of $12.99 is the 2007 Dorices Muscadet Sevre-Maine Choisie.

Where to purchase:  This wine can be purchased through your local San Diego BevMo, just click on the link to find a store near you that has this wine in stock and as of todays writing this there are still a few left in stock.

Pairing Choices: To [California] palates which have grown up and have become accustomed to big, fruity, oaky, creamy [and there's nothing wrong with that] Chardonnays, it will seem a bit austere, but pour it with oysters or stone crab or lobster and you'll be seduced by its simple yet elegant charms. That tart, steely edge makes it a particularly good match for rich seafood dishes; oysters Rockefeller, coquilles St. Jacques, Lobster Thermidor, and the like.

With/without Food: Like I was mentioning above this is not your cocktail type wine to sit back and sip with a bunch of friends, while engaged in innocuous conversations, oh no this wine should be your go-to Sea Food paring champion. One sip as a chaser with some fresh oysters will harken you back to simpler, less contentious times and enthrall you with a sense of the sublime. A match made in heaven!

About the Label: Two things on Domaine's label you want to look for when buying Muscadet. One is the qualifier "Sevre et Maine," which means the wine was produced in the sub region considered home to the highest-quality Muscadets. Two are the words "sur lie," meaning the wine has been aged on the lees [no not the pants you're wearing], the leavings of the fermentation process, further developing its flavors and even giving it a slight spritz [bubbly characteristic].

My Recommendation: Go get yourself some of this very delightful wine and grab some Seafood and have yourself a party. This is a great wine to purchase by the case as it's easy on the wallet and pleasurable on the palate. In my mind this represents a great value and a definite keeper to have in your wine cellar. Another QPR winning wine, that will make your next SeaFood daliance [a quick flirtatious or amorous], a wonderful experience. Until next time Cheers everyone!

Other Voices: Okay folks I know my tiny little opinion about wine pales in comparison [and these guys are fond of reminding everyone of this] to the likes of Heimoff, Parker and Tanzer, so this where I include their reviews or opinions about the wine I reviewed and will hopefully encourage you to give this wine a swirl: So a Mr. Parker has added this to his list of Wine Bargains: The World's Best Wine Values Under $25,  here's his review.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Gadget Review: Centellino Areadivino Wine Aerator and Decanter

In today's wine-gadget review is going to revolve around the Centellino Areadivino Wine Aerator/Decanter. A device sent as a sample, a couple of weeks ago. I've been testing this aerator out for a week now, putting it through it paces.

I tested it against my favorite Riedel Cabernet-Decanter and all I can say is that the results were at best inconclusive. I really could not demonstrate if the Centellino was able to decant my wine any better than my current decanter or vice-versa. That said it was able deliver very similar results in a much shorter about of time than my standard decanter.

According to the website: The "Centellino" decants, oxidizes and provides the perfect quantity of wine for tasting 100ml. for red and white wine, 60ml. for Port style wine, and 35ml. for Brandy and distilled spirits.

Okay no disagreement here, the Centellino does pour a perfect 3-4 ounce pour into your glass and performs a double aeration which is the premise behind its claim to decant in moments, instead of hours.

How to use the Centellino: Simply fit the Centellino into the bottle [and snug it down into the bottle holding the wooden piece]. Then fill the glass amphora by tilting the bottle back towards the amphora [well]. During this procedure you will see the wine swirling around the sides of the amphora [designed this way] into the bowl, where it aerates the wine gently the first time.

Then pour from the amphora into your glass, where you'll see the wine glugging [gurgling sound of liquid] again as it pours from the amphora into the glass [pay close attention here, or you'll only be pouring non-aerated wine] and according to the website this how it "releases the full aromas and bouquet of the wine" which is the purpose of decanting. 

The Centellino Areadivino will also come with plug to keep left over wine sealed and preserved in the wine bottle for picking up where you left off. 

Pros: The Centellino Decanter/Aerator is relatively easy to use once you get the hang of it. I tested this product on several different types of wine and found that a majority of it claims are accurate. It does pour a very neat glass of wine. I like they it snug’s down nicely into any bottle size opening, so you don't have any fear [and I mean zero] that it may dislodge during pouring.

The Centellino appears to be very effective at softening tannins which of course resulted in more pleasant finish and pleasurable drinking experience. I even used it on some bargain wine samples I was sent and it appeared to remove any bitterness or bad after-taste sometimes associated with mediocre bulk wines. While traditional decanting is time consuming, cumbersome, and to some inconvenient the design of the Centellino seems to speed up this process with ease and convenience.

Cons: It's seems to be a little drippy [at the end of the pour tube], and if you're at all like me you hate to waste even one drip from a favorite bottle. Once you have poured the contents from the bowl [amphora] into your glass, you have to let it hang over the glass a little longer to get those last few drips of wine or risk losing that wine to the placemat or the floor.

It's also a little difficult to clean, you can pour warm water through it to rinse it out [I don't recommend soap] if you have hard water like I do, then those stains can form on the inside, because after it has been rinsed and sits drying you will have a few places the water can pool, no matter the angle. It being crystal, it's pretty delicate and potentially could easily break if not handled correctly [that said, I seen these in action at a few Trade Tastings and I didn't see any casualties].

Where to Purchase and Price: There are a number folks offering this product online and nearly everyone is selling it for the same price, so you might as well get it from Fiorino Italian Imports who's selling it a number of variations [gift boxed sets]. But if you just want the basic product, with out all the other "bell and whistles" it's selling for $59.99 each.

Full Disclosure: I received this product for review as a sample from Fiorino Italian Imports.

Other Voices: A. Meyers: I've had this wine decanter for 3 or 4 years now and it was a gift from my grandfather. I use this on almost every bottle and it brings out the flavors in the wine quite wonderfully. I will say that the wooden piece on the end (the side with the stopper that goes into the bottle) eventually fell apart and now I just have the rubber stopper at the bottom. It looks a bit tacky, but the decanter still works nicely. Additionally, this little guy is a bit of a pain to clean due to its odd shape. I usually drip some soap into it and run water around it for a while, shake it around, then run some more water around.

Like I mentioned above and in other posts about my recent visit to the Family Winemakers of California San Diego tasting a few weeks back, I saw a few wineries using this product and they seemed very content with its performance. One winery in particular, Frank Family Vineyards who make some great wine, said that using the Centellino for their tasting events was like, "putting their best foot forward" that folks is high praise.

My Recommendation: If you don't already have a decanter, this is a great one to have around the house. It's very easy to use and will be a great way to have better wine experience in the future. If you don't want to drink the whole bottle, you don't have to simply put the Centellinos little stopper back in place and it's designed to preserve your wine, until next time. I would only keep like this for a few days. This is also a great gift to give that wine-snob in your life that seems to already have everything. Until next time cheers everyone!

Monday, March 22, 2010

More Highlights from the 2010 Family Winemakers of California Tasting

Okay folks I know I promised you another installment of the highlights from the 2010 Family Winemakers of California Tasting and so here it is, this time I will be casting the spotlight on Mr. Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines who in my opinion produces some top [Rhone Varietals] quality red, white, and Rosé wines from leading vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County. He's also the Enologist and assistant winemaker for Fess Parker Winery, a well-respected winery in the Santa Ynez Valley.

This was my first time actually to catch up with [the very busy] Larry Schaffer, as we've known each other through social media circles for sometime, but never met in person. He's as gregarious in person, as the wines he makes. If you have not heard of  this label before, let me tell you this, if you like Rhône wines and varietals you just can't go wrong with Tercero Wines. To be fair and objective [in other words not to sound like a cheerleader] with that previous statement I didn't like them all, that said the one's I really liked were not just good, they were very good!

About Tercero:  According to what I could glean from their website, Larry Schaffer had been in the educational and trade publishing industry for a number of years and had achieved all he had set out to do. But he thought it was time for a change, so he went back to school and achieved a second degree, this one in Viticulture and Enology with great sacrifice to him and his wife personally. Fast forward four years and Larry begins his new career in earnest as the Enologist for Fess Parker Winery. Fast forward another year, and Larry [with his wife] is ready to ‘take the plunge’ and start buying grapes to make their own wines! The rest as they say, "is history" and a new winery is born. Congratulations!

About the vineyards: According to their website, "This vineyard, located in eastern Santa Ynez, was planted in the fall of 1999. It is comprised of approximately 250 acres of vines, with a plethora of varieties planted, including syrah, grenache, mourvedre, cinsault, counouise, carignan, grenache blanc, viognier, marsanne, rousanne, and more".  They also have vineyards in Larner Vineyard – Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, Tierra Alta Vineyard – Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, Thompson Vineyard – Los Alamos and coming soon Watch Hill Vineyard – Los Alamos. For more details about the Tercero Vineyards please click on the link.

Okay is here are the wines I really liked that day and the score they achieved:

This is the wine I really liked the most, it's the 2006 Cuvee Christie and it falls to the lush side of taste equation. It is made up of 60% grenache, 30% syrah, and 10% mourvedre. Each component was fermented and aged separately, and the final blend was ‘combined’ about a month before bottling. The wine is named after his "partner in crime" [aka, his wife Christie]. This was my second time to sample this wine and was of one his first bottling under this new label. I ordered a couple of bottles, upon the initial offer acquire some of his wine. I scored this wine 94 points and it's a fantastic representation of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape style red wine, the classic GSM formula. It sells for a mere $28 and is under a Stelvin closure as all of his wines are and he assures me with a study that it is just as good or even better than a traditional cork closure.

He already has the 2007 Cuvee Christie in the bottle and it's admittedly a departure from the 06, in that it's a little more reserved in style and fruit substance. Nevertheless, this wine has a interesting flavor range from blackberry, cherries clear through to milk chocolate, currants and bacon. Framed alongside some intense tannins that make it a bit austere. I scored this wine 90 points and believe it will get better with a little more bottle age. I believe it's being sold for the same price as the 2006.

I really love a good  Grenache and when I come across a good one I like to tell the whole world, so may I introduce to you the Tercero 2007 Watch Hill Grenache which is on the spot and sweet, with black cherry and roundness on the nose, followed by ripe plum and berry flavors on the palate. About as good as an inexpensive Grenache will get I scored this wine 91 points and a real crowd pleaser to be sure and selling for a mere $28, get it while they last.

On the white side of the equation, the standouts for me were the 2008 The Outlier, selling for $18. This is a 100% Gewürztraminer made from thirty-year-old head trained vines from Los Alamos. The very fragrant nose could easily fool you into thinking this wine a sweet; instead the firm acidity keeps that aspect under firm control. A great everyday drinking wine which I scored 91 points and I would think it will pair especially well with a majority of spicy dishes.

Rounding out my favorites from the many we sampled, the 2008 Grenache Blanc stood out as wonderful statement of refined elegance, I say that because Grenache Blanc can be heavy and flabby when coaxed to high yields. However it appears Tercero's more careful management style, was able to produce a subtle, yet rich wine even though it was stainless steel and neutral oak fermented. This wine exhibited honey, almonds and slate aromas on the nose and my first sip revealed full, round, but still fresh flavors, intertwined fruit and earthy flavors. Many great pairing possibilities with this wine, I'm thinking possibly a pumpkin risotto, roast chicken, or pork chops with applesauce. I scored this wine 90 points and it represents a great bargain at $18, please give it a swirl.

There are more highlights to come, this was a huge event and I visited a little over 13 stations. So there is still much to talk about and bring to your attention, so please stay tuned. Until next time cheers everyone!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Broman meets Beef Wellington at the Wine Vault and Bistro

Is there anything better than hanging out at the Wine Vault and Bistro here in San Diego on a Friday evening, enjoying great wine, good company and deliciously paired food to toast the start of spring in San Diego? To that question I must say no, as we all need to live in moment for none of knows what tomorrow will bring, that said check out this interesting line-up below.

For Starters: We started the evening off with the NV Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne (55% PN, 30% PM and 15% Chard.) which is paired with Duck Confit, Queso De Idiazabal and King Crab. This was a delightful pairing, but I am not sure it was all the 90 points WS gave it, as this Champagne would not pass the “smell-test” as a cocktail quaffer on its own.

The next course: Lobster Bisque (with Chive Oil and Micro Fennel) paired with a 2006 Spann Vineyards Chardonnay/Viognier blend, which in it’s own right is quite good. However, it did not pair well with the Bisque and thus dampened our enthusiasm for this portion of the evening.

The Main Entrée: Beef Wellington, Creamed Spinach and Potato Pavé and we are offered two 3oz pours of Cabernet for this pairing. The first is the 2005 Mesa Cabernet Sauvignon from the Knights Valley, Sonoma. I am sorry to say this wine fell flat on its face, described as a back and forth of dusty-fruity nuances, um I think dusty pinned fruity it in 3 seconds, because the fruit was no where to be found. Geez, big disappointment considering coin, I paid to sample these wines.

Preferred Pairing: It should have been paired with Broman Cabernet instead and was in fact what I did as I poured out the other wine [mentioned above] and was so happy I did, as I found out that the Broman Cabernet and Beef Wellington were a match made in heaven.

My ship comes in: This wine [referenced below] came steaming in like the U.S. Navy for some target practice off the coast of Somalia. WOW, our group was bowled over with this 100% Cabernet [yep, you heard that right] and the 2003 Broman Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is not blended with any other grape [unusual]. This wine expressed full extraction and displayed pure red varietal fruit often associated with a Cabernet of this caliber, segued to a long lingering finish which paired ever so nicely with the Beef Wellington. My wife and the others with us purchased a few to take home, selling for $44.00 each I thought it was well worth it, considering this wine is the total package. This wine demonstrates perfectly what Napa Cabernet is all about and why Cabernet Sauvignon is the King of grapes.

According Broman Cellars: This 100% Cabernets fruit is source “came from two esteemed Napa vineyards. The blend consists of 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon from the gravelly Dr. Crane Vineyard in Saint Helena and 60 per cent Cabernet from the gently eastern sloping Rutherford Georges III vineyard. This wine was aged in French oak for 24 months” before being bottled.

About the Broman: Robert Broman has been ‘in wine’ for more than 30 years. As winemaker for some of the most prestigious wineries in the world, Robert Broman has perfected his skills, making some of the most well made, hand crafted wines you will find on the market. Today he brings his depth of skill and accomplishment to bear in making his own wines under the name Broman Cellars, where he makes wines of remarkable distinction.

What's the Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 92 points on the CCWB 100 point tasting scale and I have labeled this wine a "best-buy".  If you are curious, how I come up with my scores, please consult the Wine Review Process tab above to the right.

Where to Purchase: There are a few places to purchase this wine that I know of, one is the San Diego Wine Vault and Bistro, who as of this writing only has three left. You can also go directly to the wineries website and purchase them there or third there's La Maison Gourmet in Mission Viejo. But I would say this is your last call, snooze you lose, as this wine is a run don't walk type purchase or you could get stuck on isle of good intentions, where everyone is thirsty for a bottle of great vino.

Other Voices: Matt Greenberg Says: [who? another cork-dork like me] "I had the pleasure of an invite on July 4th to view the fire works and knowing my good friend Derek would delve into one or more of his 2500 bottle selection in the celler under his home. After a bottle of Hall cabernet, out came a bottle of 2003 Broman Cabernet WOW! ” [another wow] what a balance of big and bold. A chewy ripe plum. I thought I was drinking a bottle of screaming eagle for $48. One of the best bottles of cabernet ever. I live in Napa and enjoy good wine regularly, but was truly surprised! Cheers to Mr. Broman!

My Recommendation: First, once you taste this wine it should illustrates perfectly, why where the grapes come from is a difference maker between a good wine and a wine of distinction. Second, please buy as many as you can afford, this wine will impress any “snobby” friends you may have or that boss [they'll think you spent a fortune] who’s a wine hound and may you get you that fat promotion you’ve been expecting. All kidding aside this wine represents a great bang for the buck. Lastly, for the full enjoyment of this wine I would recommend a least an hour of decanting beforehand. So until next time, stay thirsty my friends, cheers!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Family Winemakers of California Present "Tasting 2010" San Diego

Hey San Diego wine fans, this was the place to be Sunday on a wonderful sunny San Diego day. Where else could you possibly hope to find this much wine to taste for such a low price. So I hope you plans yesterday revolved around this great tasting at the [Del Mar] San Diego fair grounds and tasted some of the very best wine being made here in our great state of California. I hope I will see you there, until next time Cheers everyone!

This was another great event featuring over 200 wineries, all members of Family Winemakers of California, which was held at the [San Diego] Del Mar Fairgrounds this past Sunday, March 14. This was the Association's 2nd annual appearance in San Diego. The Association has held trade-only tastings in Southern California since 2001 and has chosen to return to San Diego for this "one-of-a-kind" trade and consumer California wine tasting event." This was a huge tasting event and featured many small, family-owned wineries, some of which pour at very few events and don't have their own tasting rooms for you to visit, so if you have not been to one of these events I invite you make sure that next years San Diego event is on your calendar of things to do in March.

Don't despair: There is still time to plan on attending the Pasadena tasting being held at the Convention Center this Tuesday [I know short notice if you’re just reading this] and you can find all the details here. Hopefully, you can make some excuse to the boss about having to be absent for a very good cause, which cause is that you ask? I would explain it this way, this event is crucial for the express purpose of educating my palate of course. What don’t think it will fly, me neither you better just call in sick.

Bright Spots: This event was excellent, highly organized [kudos to the organizers] and well laid out, even with a crush of people I really didn't feel rushed or hurried. I've been to plenty of other "wine-tasting" events where this is not always the case. There was plenty of water to help me stay hydrated and snacks to nibble on between tastings to absorb some of the wine which may have found its way down my throat, as I poured or spit-out a majority of the wine I tasted [which feels like a terrible crime]. They also had plate lunches available to purchase, which I thought was a great idea.

Okay, here is my favorite part of the entire article and if you are like me you just skimmed down the page to find the substance of the article and the reason we all go to tastings in the first place, to "cherry-pick" our favorites, which is exactly what I did and what I've posted below are the picks I consider the "best of show". Before I begin, please let me preface everything by saying even though I've had some unique experiences tasting wine this weekend, I barely scratched the surface of the many wineries which were represented at this event. That said, here are some of my personal highlights:

Hailing from the Paso Robles area:

The folks at Lone Madrone hit it on all cylinders and ran the table, I was not able to visit the last time I was in Paso [in February] and I had to stop by their table to see what was new and boy I am glad I did. I will admit I am a big fan of many of their wines and really like their style, but this is the first time I liked everything they were pouring.

The 2007 Points West White: Selling for a mere $18, I gave this wine 91 points and for a one word review I would say, “luscious” describes it from swirl to sip.

The 2006 Bailey Ranch Zinfandel: Selling for a SRP of $22, this wine is what Zin is all about, juicy red fruits and pleasing tannins. I gave this wine 92 points, enjoy now.

The 2007 “The Will”: Just an amazing blend of 41% Grenache Noir, 40% Petite Sirah and rounding out the trifecta [which is what I would have called it] 19% Zinfandel. Folks, I gave this wine 94 points out of the box and this was one of the only wines that got a “wow” and the best part it sells for an amazing $22 each or $264 by the case. This wine represents an amazing value and the QPR is through the roof.

The 2005 Tannat: I can’t believe they still have some of this wine; this is the same bottling I purchased on my first trip to Paso. If this will be your first experience with this grape, all others will pail in comparison. Here’s my micro review, opaque, complex fruit compote of a wine with an amazing finish. I gave this wine 93 points and it’s drinking amazing right now, selling for $27 each.

More highlights to come so stay tuned and to easily do that just click to become subscriber it’s free of charge. My wine tasting journey is very similar to many women’s search for husband, “you have to kiss a lot of frogs, until you find a prince” and as I said earlier I do the “cherry- picking” so you don’t have to, until next time cheers everyone!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Over the Hedges, Red Mountain, 2007 Three Vineyards Claret

Hey San Diego wine fans, I was in one of my favorite local wine stores [the San Diego Wine Company] the other day for a tasting of some wonderful Bordeaux’s when I came across this beauty of a wine. Okay this wine was not in the tasting line-up, but if it would have been allowed in the tasting, similar priced Bordeaux would have been put to shame! I know this is saying quite a bit, but this wine is just superb. This bottle hails from the great state of Washington, where some fabulous wine is being made, specifically from the Red Mountain, AVA in Washington State.

The Red Mountain AVA, Washington's smallest appellation [while small in size, it not small in quality] which is situated between the cities of Benton City and West Richland within the larger Yakima Valley just north of the Oregon border. The south facing (here is one of key reasons for the success of this wine) slope of Red Mountain which is home to more than 37 wineries, including some of Washington's top estates. It's interesting to note that Washington's prime wine regions are located at 46° north, along the same latitude as the legendary French wine districts of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

I was in Washington State on a wine tasting trip a few years ago and came back with a few arm-loads of wine from my trip, back when it was still okay to bring your wine on the airplane as carry-on. Even though, I've not been to this AVA which I've read about this label from Red Mountain on other blogs, so I was sure it would be a winner. After tasting this wonderful wine, I concluded it was also QPR [quality, price, ratio] winner.

How they got their start: "Tom and his wife Anne-Marie marketed their Cabernet/Merlot blend to foreign buyers exclusively for two years before going domestic and opening up North American distribution. Still without their own winery, they took a chance (looks like that bet paid off in spades) buying acreage on an obscure little hill called Red Mountain. The Hedges Family Estate has concentrated their efforts on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the concept of terroir since their first vintage in 1987." They consider the Three vineyards to be their flagship Estate wine.

First Swirl: After two hours of decanting, this wine will take time to unfold [worth the effort]. It's a bit timid and shy, but came about nicely. In the glass a deep ruby core traversing to a light cerise colored rim. From the legs I could see this wine had an adept style worth waiting for, but further aging would be rewarded.

First Sniff: This wines aroma reminded of that old 70's song, "A smoke from a distant fire" Smokey aromas of bacon fat and mocha and dark fruits permeated my senses speaking to my palate about the coming attractions. Even after the wine was gone, the lingering scent of its presence reminded me that I need to get back to the wine shop to purchase a few more.

First Sip: Suave and sophisticated this wine is, to quote Mr. Yoda! Seriously this wine kept unfolding in the decanter, delivering layer upon layer of smoky essence, mocha, and leather which delivered a depth of gutsy blackberry, licorice and fig fruit and leads to long and caressing finish.

The Vineyards: RMV 48% Hedges 22% and Bel Villa 30% south facing slope, the sandy loam soil is high in calcium and alkaline. Red Mountain's vineyards are characterized by good air drainage, light soils and deeply rooted vines.

Composition: 56% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 8% Syrah a blend which changes each and every vintage. This wine is what some would call a, Claret (Dry red Bordeaux or Bordeaux-like wine) style. Nothing dry or dusty about this wine, though.

Treatment and aging: This wine spent 10 months in French, Hungarian and American Oak barrels with 50% new and 50% neutral, heavily toasted.

Alcohol: Weighing in at a mere 13.6 % too me this was impressive considering the amount of fruit displayed at mid palate. Real restraint was shown by the wine maker, what I would call power under control.

Price: Now to the reason I said this wine is another QPR champ, it cost me, wait for it......... $15.95! Yep that's it! Folks this wine should cost 3 times this amount! Please Hedges Family don't raise the price, but if I put this wine in a line-up of some similar Bordeaux styled wines it would easily sell for $75.00.

My Recommendation: First buy as many as you can safely afford to store, second drink one now to see what I am talking about and then cellar the rest! I poured myself a one ounce pour and gave it swirl, sipped it and realized this wine needs some decanting. Third, make sure you decant (can't stress this enough) before imbibing, the layers of flavor take time to unfold. By the way if you find yourself in the Red Mountain area, go see them! They have a beautiful tasting room and a VERY reasonable tasting fee! This AVA is a must see!

Other Voices: So the folks at Wine Enthusiast gave this wine a swirl and this is what they came up with, "A wonderfully fragrant blend, supple and loaded with berries and darker notes of licorice and coffee. This is sophisticated and European in style--meaning lighter alcohol and less sugar--but in return you get substance and grip. Though it’s built for near-term drinking, there’s nothing light or insubstantial here; and the mouth feel is that of a much more expensive wine.") 89 points Wine Enthusiast: (3/1/2009)

Where to Purchase: Okay folks as I mentioned earlier you can grab this wine at the San Diego Wine Company on Miramar Road.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 93 points on the Cuvee Corner 100 point tasting scale. I included in my scoring of this wine the Quality Price Ratio, which helped improve the score of this wine.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut: Licensed to Thrill!

"Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." - Peter Drucker

Believe me, quite a bit went right creating this Special Cuvee, which is why it's my pleasure to review this bubbly today. Fresh from a Champagne tasting today on a very soggy Sunday, I am quickly reminded that Champagne is not just for New Years Eve or only to celebrate special occasions anymore, no it's for the everyday celebrations of life. This is a message that bears repeating, as the Champagne Bureau also likes to remind folks while yes Champagne is great for moments of celebration, it's also a great wine to accompany many types of meals and or appetizers and of course who could forget that Champagne, is also is a great bar-staple to have in the cellar. 

While I understand that not every day, most of us will want a glass of bubbly [but some will], I still strongly recommend it as a way to instill some sizzle into the fizzle of your everyday life. Gentlemen take a tip from 007, a little bouquet and a tipple of Champagne can be all the difference between romance and another night of re-runs and a bowl of popcorn. Nothing stirs a women's heart quite like the pop of a champagne cork. if you know what I mean. What Champagne would you order or bring to your next party or celebration? Perhaps your thinking hmm, what would Bond do? 

That's right your thinking WWBD, then your Champagne of choice is Bollinger. Some folks may not be aware but it's Champagne Bollinger which has been featured as 007's Champagne of Choice in many of Ian Fleming's novels, as well as many of the movies we all know and love.

List of Bollinger champagnes used in the movies:

Live and Let Die: Bollinger ...

Moonraker: Bollinger RD '69

View to a Kill: Bollinger '75

License to Kill: Bollinger RD '75

The Living Daylights: Bollinger ...

Goldeneye: Bollinger Grande Année 1988

Tomorrow Never Dies: Bollinger Grande Année 1989

The World Is Not Enough: Bollinger Grande Année 1990

Die Another Day: Bollinger '61

Casino Royale: Bollinger Grande Année 1990
According to the The Bond Life Style

"The relationship began when the Broccoli-Wilson family, producers of the Bond films, sought a wine to match Bond's impeccable taste and refined personality. Not surprisingly, they chose Champagne Bollinger, long acknowledged as one of the world's finest Champagnes. A mutual friendship developed between the Broccoli-Wilson family and the Bollinger family, and Champagne Bollinger has remained a Bond favorite even as the torch has been passed from Roger Moore to Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and now Daniel Craig [who's my least favorite Bond, btw].

About Bollinger: At the Official Champagne Bollinger website you will find that Bollinger relies on its own estate for more than 60 percent of its grape requirements, including the Pinot Noir that gives its Champagne much of its distinctive strength and structure. Bollinger is one of a select few houses that can control the quality of its grape supply so carefully. Bollinger is renowned for its use of traditional methods that include extensive use of Pinot Noir, individual vinification of each marc and cru, barrel fermentation and extra-aging of all of its Champagnes on the lees prior to disgorgement."

More about Bollinger: Founded in 1829, Champagne Bollinger introduced the world to an instantly recognizable, dry, toasty style that connoisseurs around the globe covet. Six generations of the Bollinger family have maintained the trademark style of their namesake Champagne and it is one of a few remaining Grande Marque houses owned, controlled and managed by the same family since its founding.

Wiki on Champagne: The French region of Champagne (comprised of the towns of Rheims, Epernay, and Ay) was the first region in the world to make sparkling wine in any quantity. Today, the name of the region is synonymous with the finest of all sparkling wines, and winemaking traditions of Champagne have become role models for sparkling wine producers, worldwide. Surprisingly, the region of Champagne is now responsible for only one bottle in 12 of all sparkling wine produced. Styles of champagne range from the basic brut (often blends of several vintages), single vintage champagnes, and rose.

Wine Reviewed:  Bollinger "Special Cuvée" Brut Champagne

First Swirl: Seemed to show some power and grace and displayed golden, small and persistent bubbles.

First Sniff: The aroma is very nuanced with lots of nuts, apples and honey. There is also a clear touch of bread and oak. Some how I get the presence of goat cheese on freshly made toast, weird huh?

First Sip: The mousse suited me very well with it's small and soft bubbles, the acidity was strong without becoming too bitter and the full body was wonderful. Refreshing acidity. I would say another good showing from one of the most reliable [non-vintage] NVs out there.
Composition and Treatment: Okay so maybe your wondering what are the grapes [yep, said grapes plural because it's a blend] that are used and how did it get those toasty notes, I mentioned above; "well this Pinot Noir-dominated blend undergoes its first fermentation in small oak barrels with an average age of 30 years—a technique believed to produce a more expressive, terroir-driven wine with longer aging potential due to its early oxidation" Champagne Bollinger
My Recommendation: Drink it now and often or tuck one away for 10 years - this wine will easily stand some aging. I know this is wine is on the somewhat expensive side of the spectrum, but it is definitely worth your time and a pocket book [or wallet].
Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 90 points on the Cuvee Corner 100 point tasting scale and could have scored higher with a lower price point, as QPR is taken into account for each review.
Where to Purchase: You can pick up this wonderful Champagne at your local Bevmo here in San Diego, but be sure to call first as the depth of stock on this product is not that great. You can also you the wine-searcher search tool located here on my blog to locate this wine in your own neighborhood. Bevmo is selling this wine for $59.99 and taking a look around the web this is a pretty representative price for this product.

Other Voices: The folks at Wine News Mag had this to say; Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Champagne has baked apple, peach and orange marmalade aromas; crisp and acidic with flavors of mixed grains, apple and orange zest. They gave this wine 93 PTS and everyones pal over at the beloved Wine Spectator gave this wine a rating of 91 points.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...