Monthly Archives: December 2012

2005 Chateau Laribotte Sauternes

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Bostrytis Cinerea you beautiful devil. Sauternes is a world famous sweet white wine produced in the…get ready for some geography…Sauternes region located in the Graves region of Bordeaux, France. This wine is made from Semillon (upwards of 90%), Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected with Bostrytis Cinerea which in the wine world is known as Noble Rot. While rotting fruit may not look appetizing, Noble Rot causes magic to happen in Satuernes. The rot dehydrates the grapes leaving highly concentrated and very sweet grapes for winemakers to work with. The result is one of the most unique and most expensive wines in the world.

Fun Sauternes facts:

– Exceptional aging potential with exceptional vintages having potential beyond 100 years.

– Chateau d’Yquem is widely regarded as the best producer in the world.

– Since it’s produced in such a small area inferior vintages are sometimes completely disgarded. How often does this happen? at Chateau d’Yquem it’s only happened 10 times: 1900, 1915, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1964, 1972, 1974. 1992, and 2012.

– Sauternes has the honor of being the most expensive wine ever sold.

– Typically sold in 375 ml bottles although regular sizes are available in some cases.

– In 2006 Chateau d’Yquem sold a 135 year vertical tasting from 1860-2003 for $1.5 million dollars.

– In 2011 a bottle of 1811 Chateau d’Yquem sold for for $117,000 to a French sommelier.

– Thomas Jefferson is on record ordering 250 bottles of the 1784 Chateau d’Yquem for himself and George Washington.

So what’s all the fuss about? Sauternes attains a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity along with flavor depth to provide a unique experience. It is full bodied and has a wealth of fruit and nut flavor…it reminds me of a more complex and full mead. This wine will delight your palate for several minutes with it’s long and smooth finish. Served at the right temperature (around 52 degrees) this is truly the nectar of the Gods. Sounds like the perfect desert wine right? Don’t be fooled! While it’s a great desert option if you’re not into port, Sauternes will pair well with a variety of foods….don’t be afraid to have it with your dinner.

Onto the relatively no-name Chateau Laribotte Moby and I tried the other night. Shockingly we couldn’t afford a $250 bottle of 2005 Chateau d’Yquem so we went with the $20 option. At $20 this is considered to be an excellent “value” Sauternes so expect to pay AT LEAST $20 for a 375 ml bottle from a decent Chateau. Lists of reputable Chateaus can be easily found online.

I’ll help you out with the pronunciation so you don’t sound silly at the store. Say it like this: Soh/tehrn. Kind of like turn but with an eh sound instead. It’s very French…why not just spell it that way?

colonelgrape: 94. This wine was unbelievably good. Light, fresh flavors of melon and vanilla along with a honey, nuts, and minerals. There was sweetness and acidity with a full body that balanced nicely, the wine coated our glass as we swirled and observed it. The finish was incredibly long, lasting a couple minutes. I’m told this is actually not a very sweet Sauternes so I can’t wait to get out there and try some different examples. Unless you live under a rock and hate sweet things, you 100% need to spend the money and try a Sauternes.

MobyGrape: 93. This stuff was awesome.  At first I was 100% convinced the Colonel was trying to trick me and snuck mead in my glass to see if I could tell the difference.  It was very sweet and had a touch of honey flavor to it.  If you don’t like wines like this (and that means there’s a problem with you), don’t even bother.  I would serve this as a dessert wine, I’m not sure if that’s what you’re supposed to do with it but it’s like drinking rich liquid candy.  I feel like food would ruin it somehow, but who knows, it might go well with a super strong stinky cheese?  Their powers combined might make for a Captain Planet-esque dining experience.  Except for Heart, I mean really, what was he good for?  Anyways, who knew rotting grapes could taste so good!  Go out and get some of this!

2007 Opolo Vineyards Mountain Zinfandel

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No not that White Zinfandel crap you see people drinking (although it is made from Zinfandel grapes, it’s an off-dry/sweet grape juice if you ask me). This is a traditional huge California Zinfandel. I’m not sure if you can make it out in the picture but you read that label correctly: 16.6% alcohol content. Zinfandel is known for two things: big flavor and high alcohol content. If you aren’t ready to take the bull by the horn then this wine might not be for you.

Some fun Zinfandel facts:

– 3rd most harvested Grape in California behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay

– Grown in Croatia as Crljenak Kaštelanski and in Italy as Primitivo.

– Controversy over grape DNA (yes, grape DNA): Scientists conducted DNA tests to find the roots of Zinfandel after realizing that both the Italian and Croatian grapes taste remarkably similar to Zinfandel. The result? Both have a common ancestor grape…Tridibag…another Croatian grape that has been around for centuries. Zinfandel,  Crljenak Kaštelanski, and Primitivo have been regarded as synonyms for many years but in the United States that’s no longer acceptable.

– High sugar content in the grapes leads to extremely high alcohol content

– Often referred to as “Zin”.

– Depending on where the grapes are grown the wine can have very different flavor. The cooler climates lead to jammy and fruity wines while the warmer climates lead to spicier wines.

On to the 2007 Opolo Vineyards example. Moby and I brought this bottle to a birthday party and unfortunately we really didn’t get to try enough of it to form a solid opinion. There were 6 people trying it and then the last 1/4 of the bottle was lost when someone dropped it. Whoops! There was a broken wine glass, wine in the dip, wine on the cake, a minor hand injury…it lead to much comedy throughout the night so it was still fun. Thankfully it was only a $20 bottle!

But what did it taste like? It was very very jammy and had huge fruit flavor. This was a seriously big wine. You could really notice the 16.6% alcohol content also. I nursed my glass through the salad and lasagna since we were out of wine but it turns out it was a good thing because this wine 100% needs food. WIthout food you may as well schedule a nap after your first glass because this wine will beat you senseless.

All that being said I actually don’t mind Zinfandels. Big wines can be fun in the right environment, you just have to know what you’re getting into. Zinfandels don’t have a true calling like Cabernet and steak…but if you’re looking for a big wine other than Cabernet give Zinfandel a try.

2005 Cerro Anon Rioja Reserva

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Rioja is one of the most common Spanish iwnes you’ll find on the shelves at the local store. It’s typically a blend of Tempranillo, Grenache, Graciano, and Carignan grapes with Tempranillo being the primary grape (usually 60% ish). Most Rioja wines are aged in oak barrels for various amounts of time depending on the classification. There are 4 classifications:

Rioja: Aged in oak for less than 1 year.

Crianza: Aged at least 2 years and at least 1 year in oak.

Rioja Reserva: Aged at least 3 years and at least 1 year in oak.

Rioja Gran Reserva: Aged at least 3 years and at least 2 years in oak.

Kind of like French wines, you may not see all the information you’re looking for on the labels. What’s the blend? What classification is it? It’s a European thing. In America we label our wines by varietal whereas in Europe it’s by region and you’re just supposed to know them. I’m getting there with my French wines but Spain is project for the distant future. What can you take away from all this information? Rioja is good and you should try it.

colonelgrape: 82. We found this 2005 Reserva for $25 so it’s a very affordable wine. The wine itself was a very dark purple and had good spice, earth, and tannins…probably why it worked so well with the rustic Italian food we had. There’s something about Spanish wine that I can’t quite put my finger on…I do enjoy Rioja I just can’t figure it out yet. When I have Tempranillo at tapas bars I get the same feeling. Maybe Tempranillo just isn’t my thing? I don’t know yet but the bottom line is that it’s a solid wine and I’d recommend it if you’re looking to branch out into Spain.

MobyGrape: 88. I think they found a way to bottle Enrique Iglesias’ primo.  It smelled like regular wine at first, and then the longer it sat out I guess it smelled a little funkier (but at that point, who really cares), but this is a great little wine.  Tastes a little fruity up front but it’s nice and smooth.  The longer it breathes the more bite it picks up.  For a while I thought it had a little caramel flavor but then again there’s an excellent change I’m only imagining that.  This was perfectly fine with food, and it’s perfectly fine on its own.  What’s even more perfect is that the Colonel had to go and the rest of the bottle is allllll mine.

My nose’s weekend in NJ

Even though I was under the weather, I was happily along for the fantastic voyage to NJ. Despite my sneezing and snotting on everyone and everything, I wouldn’t have missed this trip for the world. No mere mortal cold could kep me from having every drop of wine possible. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to contribute much to rating each wine (but really, do I ever?) other than “I can sort of taste this one more than the last one *sniffle sniffle*” but here’s what I can rate for you:

tissue box

So this is your basic box of regular tissues. No aloe or lotion in them, so it wasn’t like wiping your nose with a cloud, but still a solid tissue. These came in the car with us for the journey and didn’t let me down.

Pocket tissues

Now these guys have the market on convenience, and even though they’re brand name, it was still a bit like wiping your nose with sandpaper after you’ve used 10 of them in the span of 2 minutes. You’re going to wind up with some serious tissue nose, or looking like you have some sort of skin disease or drug problem if you don’t get your schnoz hooked up with something better. There was a lot of disgusting snot recalling to avoid having to use these.

Despite the boogers it was a fantastic weekend, one I’m hoping to repeat with clear sinuses next time.

Dinner Grape Style

When we get together with AuntGrape and UncleGrape we tend to have a fantastic feast and this weekend was no different. We spent the majority of Saturday preparing the food and visiting the Wine Library. CousinGrapette and BoyfriendGrape made guest appearances as well. Here was our menu:

Appetizers: Goat and blue cheese with crackers, Gougere

Main Course: 14 rib pork crown roast with bread and pear stuffing

Sides: Twice baked potato casserole, broccoli with garlic and cheese, fresh gravy

Desert: Individual baked apple pastry

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If you’ve never had gougere you are simply missing out. A light, fluffy pastry made with gruyere cheese, they are heaven right out of the oven. I got the chance to make it myself and it’s not that complicated, Moby and I are most certainly going to be making it again when we host our next dinner.

UncleGrape was generous enough to share some of his wine with us and we were delighted to drink whites, reds, and port throughout the meal. Let’s talk wine!

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To start the evening we opened a delicious picpoul with the cheese and crackers and in my excitement I forgot to take a picture of the bottle. It was light, delicious, and inexpensive. Picpoul is a white grape grown in the Chateauneuf du Pape region of Rhone. When the gougere arrived we opened a 2006 Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvee Laurence from Alsace. This wine stole the show for Moby and myself. It was sweet, spicy, and coated the glass with it’s deliciousness. We wrapped up appetizers with a 2010 Dauvissat Chablis which is a chardonnay from Burgundy. It was light and fruity and a nice way to transition to the main course.

White wine rankings:

1: 2006 Weinbach Gewurztraminer Cuvee Laurence. This wine was so delicious that I’ve ordered more to have in the house. 2006 was no longer available but I was able to find 2009 and 2010. Stay tuned for a full review in the future.

2: Picpoul: I wish I had more info on this bottle but we’ll be trying another soon.

3: 2010 Dauvissat Chablis.

Onto the the reds. UncleGrape approached me and said “How about Chateauneuf’s tonight?” I smiled and nodded my head excitedly. Here’s what we had with dinner:

1998 and 2000 CdPs from Paul 1998 Font de Michelle CdP

UncleGrape didn’t let us down and served us 4 excellent CdP’s. We agreed on the first two rankings but we flip flopped on the last two…here’s how I ranked them:

1. 2000 Domaine Charvin

2. 1998 Domaine Font de Michelle Cuvee Etienne Gonnet

3. 1998 Vieux Telegraph

4. 2000 Domaine de la Janasse

All 4 wines were delicious but the Charvin was head and shoulders above the other three wines. A perfect balance of fruit, spice, and body it was the best CdP I’ve had to date…ahead of the 2007 Bosquet des Pape we rated earlier this year. I’m looking forward to trying more CdP from Domaine Charvin in the future.

While I was hard at work on the gougere Moby was slaving over the baked apples we had for desert. Each serving is half an apple stuffed with a mixture of butter, sugar, and spices and wrapped in a pastry crust. We used golden delicious apples and will 100% be making these again. They look like little bowling balls but were one of the lightest deserts I’ve ever had. They melted in your mouth and left you wanting more…serving them with vanilla ice cream made it even better.

With the apples we had a fantastic 1977 Taylors Vintage Port:

1977 Taylor's Vintage Port

UncleGrape started this decanting about 7 hours before we drank it and there was probably a solid 1-2 cups of sediment in the sink after pouring it into the decanter. However, it opened up beautifully…we were all shocked at how much life it still had left. It was ready to drink now but it could easily age longer. It had the delicious raisin taste I associate with port and was even better than the 1994 Graham’s we had earlier this year. Moby and I kept the bottle to add to our collection…maybe we’ll use it as a vase or a decoration in the future.

What a night. Family, friends, and 8 bottles of fantastic wine. We’re looking forward to our next trip already!