Willamette Valley’s Left Coast Cellars grows pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris and blanc, making these grapes into generally delicious and accessible wines. I’m a fan of the pinot noirs, but today let’s look at whites and pinks. The winery, founded in 2003, is certified organic, runs on solar power, participates in a salmon preservation program and employs new oak to a modest degree. What’s not to like? Winemaker is Joe Wright.
When my wife tried a sip of the Left Coast Cellars Queen Bee Bubbly 2017, Willamette Valley, she said, “Can we just drink this every day?” Yes, it’s that delightful. The gently effervescent wine is 100 percent pinot noir, made in what’s called in France the methode ancienne or ancestrale, meaning that after fermentation the wine is bottled with a tiny portion of yeast and residual sugar. These elements act …
These are winegrapes that were once grown in Missouri and middle America prior to Prohibition. They are just a handful among the many grapes developed in the rigorous breeding programs of viticulture pioneers Thomas Volney Munson, Hermann Jaeger, George Husmann, and Isador Bush. Each of these gentlemen received commendations from the French for rescuing that wine industry as mentioned in The Basics and between them developed hundreds of new wine grapes and rootstocks. The Show Me State is a prime grape breeding region as several diverse climates merge (eastern woodlands, western plains, Ozark Highlands, and the Mississippi Delta). Across the globe, there are about 79 different species of grapes in the genus Vitis (grapevines); but 27 of those are native to middle America. Thus Missouri has historically hosted many of these species: labrusca, aestivalis, riparia, rupestris, cordifolia, among …
My parents were teetotalers, my father because his father was a drunken lout, my mother because she believed that the merest drop of alcohol meant one was fated to a life in the gutter among cigarette butts and dead pigeons. No wonder I took to drink! But seriously, folks, even though my late mother would not have enjoyed a sip of Champagne or other sparkling wine on her day, in this post I’ll mention several products in those genres that will bring delight to your Mom’s celebration. We have a cava brut rosé from Spain, a pinot noir-dominated sparkler from Alta Langa in Italy, and a majority pinot noir rosé Champagne. In fact, pinot noir could be the sub-theme of this post. In any case, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there; I hope your enjoy your day, imbibing in moderation, of course.
Many who know me understand that I absolutely love potato chips. On top of that I am very choosy about my potato chips. I had to laugh when I told one of my daughters that my favorite potato chip was a simple, thin-sliced potato chip offered by our local grocery store. I was amazed when my daughter agreed with me.
March 14 is National Potato Chip Day
However, before I go into details about the history of potato chips, let me tell you about the best wine pairing for potato chips. While traveling in wine country, we were offered potato chips with a sparkling wine. It was delightful. Early on I would never have considered pairing wine with potato chips. It seems the salt in potato chips increases the flavor with the dryness of the wine. The chemistry works.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to taste wines from all over the world, from well-known and highly regarded regions to unexpected areas that are producing quality wines that are just waiting for your discovery. Nevertheless, there are some wine regions I hear more about than I savor. Australia’s southernmost state, the island of Tasmania, is one of them. The region enjoys cool-climate maritime influences and is recognized for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as the production of Méthode Tasmanoise (traditional method) sparkling wines. While Tasmania represents a tiny percentage of Australia’s total wine production—and the region’s wines may be hard to find—just about everything I’ve tasted from the island has been delicious. In fact, I’m looking for more of this sparkler as I type. It is well deserving of both your attention and your table. For further information and where you can find this wine, …
The rules that regulate the production of sparkling wine in Piedmont’s Alta Langa region are specific. The district is dedicated only to the production of sparkling wines made in the metodo classico — the Champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle; the grapes can only be hand-harvested chardonnay and pinot noir; the grapes can only be grown in vineyards that lie at or above 250 meters above sea level, 820 feet or higher. Only 18 producers works under these strictures, and one of them is the estate of Enrico Serafino, founded by the eponymous businessman and entrepreneur in 1878. (Since 2015 owned by the Krause family.) The Enrico Serafino Brut 2013, Alta Langa, a blend of 80 percent pinot noir and 20 percent chardonnay, offers a pale straw-gold hue and a surging stream of tiny, glinting bubbles; it’s a clean and incisive sparkling wine that becomes more generous …
The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.
With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
Sorry about that. You know the drill, the world is too much with us late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our powers, blah blah blah, so today, the actual 12th Day of Christmas — Twelfth Night — we double up with a twofer to compensate for the absence of the 11th day yesterday.
These wines were samples for review.
I reviewed the Frank Family Vineyards Brut Rosé 2012 on February 14, 2017, obviously aimed at Valentine’s. Today it’s the turn of a new vintage for that wine, the Frank Family Brut Rosé 2014, Carneros, a blend of 88 percent pinot noir and 12 percent chardonnay, aged 30 months in the lees in bottle. The color is a pale but radiant copper-salmon hue, enlivened by a constant stream of tiny bubbles; the first impression is of a compote of strawberries and raspberries, spiced and macerated and slightly …
Lying about 20 kilometers south of the walled city of Carcassonne, the town of Limoux is supposedly the place where the traditional method of making sparkling wine by a second fermentation in the bottle was invented, even before it occurred in Champagne. The producers of Limoux sparkling wine insist on this point, as if precedence were everything. Let them have their little triumph, because Crémant de Limoux, one of several categories of the region’s sparkling wine, can be delightful and engaging. A good example is the Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux St. Hilaire Brut, a non-vintage blend of 60 percent chardonnay grapes, 20 percent chenin blanc and 10 percent each pinot noir and mauzac, aged on the lees in the bottle for 12 months. The chenin blanc and mauzac indicate that this is indeed a local product. The color is very pale gold, animated by a constant upward stream of …
If I say that Prosecco, the ubiquitous sparkling wine of the Veneto, has areas where the soils and vineyards are considered of better quality, thus theoretically resulting in better products, My Readers might respond, “Are you kidding, F.K.? Prosecco is Prosecco. Let’s not complicate matters with levels of quality.” Pause a moment, though, because what I say is true. The hillside vineyards between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiandene generally produce higher quality Prosecco — labeled Prosecco Superiore — than the over-cropped vineyards of the flat-lands; the names of those towns, or at least Valdobbiadene, will also appear on the label. If you have consumed the bland and lackluster fizz that passes for Prosecco in most quarters, you will be happy to encounter Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiandene DOCG. Though the Champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle is allowed for this category. most PSCV is produced in …
While the regulations that govern the production of Cava sparkling wine, in the Penedés region in Spain, allow chardonnay and pinot noir as well as the traditional indigenous grapes, the producer Agustí Torelló Mata will have none of that. This estate, now run by Alex Torello Mata, son of the founder, uses only native grapes from organically-farmed vines at least 30 years old. One result of this methodology is the Agustí Torelló Mata Trepat Reserva Rosado 2014, made completely from the trepat grape and aged 30 months on the lees in bottles. This is a different order of Cava. The color is a startling, bright copper-salmon hue; bubbles exhibit an almost furious froth in their glinting upward surge; aromas of wild raspberries and red currants are permeated by notes of woodsy spices, raspberry leaf, black tea and blood orange, with a background of flint and steel; exuberantly effervescent on the …
The two Brut Rosé Champagnes and one sparkling wine from Carneros reviewed below are intended for more intimate circumstances than a blow-out orgy of total strangers drooling their way through “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight. You’ve been there; now you’re a grown-up. However, for New Year’s Eve events that require bottles of bubbly to slake the festive thirsts of larger groups than a small dinner party or a romantic rendezvous pour deux, I recommend these products that are fairly widely available and won’t cause your credit cards to groan: 1. Domaine Paul Mas M Côté Mas Blanc de Blancs Brut, Côteaux du Languedoc, rated Very Good+, about $16; Juvé Y Camps Pinot Noir Brut Rosé Cava, rated Excellent, about $18; Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne, rated Excellent, about $20; and Bianchi Extra Brut Sparkling Wine, Mendoza, rated Excellent, about $22. For those of you looking for more elevated, refined and …
As a child I well remember New Year’s Eve as an at home event. Every year in early fall, my mom and dad would “harvest” the grapes from our few grapevines. There were enough grapes for making yummy homemade grape juice. There was never any talk of making wine in those days.
As a result, by New Year’s Eve there were still bottles of the grape juice stored in the cellar of our 1800s home. Mom would retrieve a bottle of the grape juice, and as a special treat, mix grape juice with ginger ale or 7-Up. The sparkles in the non-alcoholic drink were delightful and just a perfect way to celebrate this special day.
Today it seems that many enjoy celebrating New Year’s Eve with sparkling wine or champagne. We enjoy a glass of sparkling wine/champagne anytime but New Year’s Eve also is a great day to …
Domaine Saint-Germain was launched in 1999 by brothers Etienne and Raphaël Saint-Germain, who are descended from a family of grape-growers. This is in the Savoie region, in the foothills of the Alps, east of Beaujolais and southwest of Lake Geneva. The brothers farm 12 hectares — just under 30 acres — of vines devoted primarily to varieties unique to the area, grapes like jacquere, mondeuse, altesse, persan, molette and gringet. Their sparkling wine is the Domaine Saint-Germain Methode Traditionelle “Altesse,” a blend of 60 percent altesse grapes, 30 percent jacquere and 10 percent chardonnay that ages in the bottle on the lees for 13 months and sees a very low dosage. It’s a delightful and unusually effervescent sparkling wine whose pure medium gold hue is energized by a constant stream of tiny bubbles; all things lemon — slightly baked lemon, lemon rind, lemon balm and preserved lemon — meet with …
The Altemasi Brut, Trento DOC, hails from Italy’s northeastern region of Trentino. Sparkling wines made there must use only chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes, as in Champagne, with the addition of pinot blanc. DOC rules regulate vineyard practices and the length of time of aging in the bottle on the lees for regular and reserve bottlings. In other words, the Trentonians take all this very seriously. The Altemasi Brut is 100 percent chardonnay that spent 15 months on the lees. The color is pale straw-gold that shimmers with a stream of tiny frothing bubbles; the seductive nose features notes of smoke and steel, heather, pears and lemons that unfurl hints of almond blossom and honeysuckle, all elements subtly melded. On the palate, this sparkling wine is vibrant and quite dry, crisp and vivacious; a limestone quality that dominates from mid-palate through the finish feels chiseled and as transparent …
Make New Year’s Day extra special for 2019. As a special treat for New Year’s Day, create this enticing recipe for scones which includes bacon and blue cheese. The recipe is from J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg, California and also calls for sparkling wine and Pinot Noir. Typically scones are served with afternoon tea; however, I think that the addition of bacon would make it a great item for breakfast!
Scones with Bacon & Blue Cheese Fig Jam
Serves: Makes 32 scones
Ingredients for Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Â½ teaspoon salt
3 oz. cold butter
½ cup cream
½ cup bacon, (15 slices), diced and cooked
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
Ingredients for Fig Jam
1-1/2 cups J Brut Rose
1-1/2 cups J Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
The Moët et Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé is a Brut Rosé for grown-ups. The blend, depending on the vintages involved, tends to be 45 to 55 percent pinot noir, 35 to 45 percent pinot meunier and 5 to 10 percent chardonnay, with 20 to 30 percent reserve wines. The color is a ruddy copper-smoky topaz hue; tiny bubbles form a seething torrential up-surge. The beguiling bouquet and the round flavors are characterized by blood oranges, red currants and strawberries both ripe and dried, all sifted with elements of chalk and limestone; the result is a Champagne that’s very dry and austere but svelte and supple, almost dense through the mid-palate. A few minutes in the glass bring in traces of softly ripened peaches with mint and hints of rose petals, flint and white pepper. Whatever delicate overtones it manifests, this is a substantial, savory sparkling wine. 12 percent alcohol. Excellent. …
The regulations that govern the Alta Langa district in Piedmont are quite specific. The region is dedicated only to the production of sparkling wines made in the metodo classico — the Champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle; the grapes can only be hand-harvested chardonnay and pinot noir; the grapes can only be grown in vineyards that lie at or above 250 meters above sea level, 820 feet or higher. Only 18 producers works under these strictures, and one of them is the estate of Enrico Serafino, founded by the eponymous businessman and entrepreneur in 1878. (Since 2015 owned by the Krause family.) The Enrico Serafino Brut Rosé 2014, Alta Langa, is 100 percent pinot noir, aged in bottle on the lees for at least 30 months. The color is a beguiling coral-topaz hue, enlivened by an energetic stream of tiny bubbles; subtle notes of raspberries and red …