Monday, June 30, 2008

Chamarre Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2005

All Pinot Noir but from 2 different regions: half from Corsica and half from Burgundy AOC grapes. A very soft style to this Pinot Noir with a nose of mellow red fruits, violets and a very smooth minerality with a palate of raspberries, licorice and vanilla (there is also a slight toastiness from 6 months in oak). I'd say a very nice balancing act is going on here. This one goes for about $13.

Note: Chamarré is the first brand to take advantage of the new French wine appellation, "Vin de Pays Vignobles de France" which allows blending across regions. Founder Pascal Renaudat and winemaker Renaud Rosari have access to sources from cooperatives across the country and now can blend the best of each.

Crianza Borsao 2005 Campo de Borja

Coming from our amigos in the Riojas region of Spain, this medium bodied red Crianza is a blend of 60% Garnacha and 40% Tempranillo. Depending upon the specific region, Crianzas must be aged in oak for at least a year and then a year in bottle. It is all glycerine, licorice, spice and because of the aging, wood on the nose, while the palate sings of strawberries, cherries and oak. Paired well with lentil soup and a panini at Uvarara. Retails around the $10 mark and a decent deal.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Campo Viejo Crianza 2005 Tempranillo

©photo by Dave Trieger
From Rioja, Spain comes this wonderful Crianza ... aged for 12 months in oak casks and another 12 in bottle. Dark ruby in color with warmer colors around the edges and a medium body, this has rich, jammy aromas and sniff, sniff... hmm, there are some horses in the barn... and a hint of minerality. On the palate is a warm strawberry pie (you can almost chew it), super ripe plum and raw (as opposed to toasted) wood. Nice velvet tones at the end stretch across the finish line. The Wine Room of Forest Hills had this keeper for about $10.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chamarré Grand Reserve Shiraz 2005 (Vin de Pays Vignobles de France)

France... This is 100% Shiraz from Chamarré... but produced with half of the grapes from the Northern Rhone (for the spicy kick and fresh acidity) and half from Languedoc (for the jammy, ripe fruitiness). The scales tip slightly on the side of the south, with a more intense, fruity roundness opposed to a subtle typical spicy Shiraz profile. On the nose is a definite spiciness and the palate is cooked fruits, white pepper and a smooth finish. One thing all the Chamarré wines have in common is the same brushstrokes by the artist (vintner)... they're all tied together neatly by a mellowness and even quality. This is available at The Wine Room of Forest Hills for around $12.

Note: Chamarré is the first brand to take advantage of the new French wine appellation, "Vin de Pays Vignobles de France" which allows blending across regions. Founder Pascal Renaudat and winemaker Renaud Rosari have access to sources from cooperatives across the country and now can blend the best of each.

Chamarré Grand Reserve Viognier 2005 (Vin de Pays Vignobles de France)

Another new French wine from the Chamarré brand is this white which is made from 100% Viognier grapes, half from the northern Rhone and half from the Languedoc appellation. It is aged 6 months in oak. The grapes from the northern Rhone come from the AOC Condrieu where Viognier may have originated. Straw colored with floral aromas, a hint of oak and summer fruits, the palate is a big citrus and apple butter burst of color. This is in the $12 range at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Note: Chamarré is the first brand to take advantage of the new French wine appellation, "Vin de Pays Vignobles de France" which allows blending across regions. Founder Pascal Renaudat and winemaker Renaud Rosari have access to sources from cooperatives across the country and now can blend the best of each.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chamarré Rosé Selection Grenache-Shiraz 2006 (Vin de Pays Vignobles de France)

Chamarré is the first brand to take advantage of the new French wine appellation, "Vin de Pays Vignobles de France" which allows blending across regions. Founder Pascal Renaudat and winemaker Renaud Rosari have access to sources from cooperatives across the country and now can blend the best of each. In this refreshing blend they use Grenache for body and Shiraz for zing, both from Corsica. Light body and pale peach colors meld with bouquets of berries and spice and ending with a citrus finish. In the $10 range, this Rosé is a perfect summer wine.

Interview with winemaker Luc Baudet from Chateau Mas Neuf

Your interest in the techniques used for aging wine was influenced by your stay in Ireland, would you say that those techniques are more or less important than terroir?

Terroir is a three fold concept: The most obvious first two are soils (and their interaction with vines...) and climate, the third one is the human effort and skill to influence the outcome of what the first two can offer.

In this acceptance, all actions including raising the wines before offering them to the public is part of terroir. They are all important, but the most difficult and long-to-achieve part is growing world class level grapes.

What sets Rhone apart from the other winemaking regions of France?

I think Rhone is not different from other great French terroirs. It has benefited from several centuries history of vine breeding and winemaking, and has the ability to grow in an unique way three fantastic grape varieties, the Syrah in the North, the Grenache and Mourvèdre in the South.

Why has the poularity of the wines of The Rhone increased in comparison to Bordeaux?

Maybe the uniqueness of Rhone is the ability to gather today a large public, from the very finest wine connoisseurs, to the newbies that are tired of the industrial rich fat New World, and want to be introduced to more truthful wines that express terroir.

I really think Bordeaux has a few exceptional terroirs, that can indeed produce outstanding wines, but the average terroir in Bordeaux is not adapted to produce ripe grapes in a regular way. As you know the whole of Gironde is classified as AOC ground. But not all soils in this area can produce great grapes.

In the Rhone, the climate is set to produce ripe grapes nearly every year.

And in the Rhone, a lot of icon wines are produced by small family owned companies. As opposed to big capitalistic operations in Bordeaux.

Describe your perfect meal and the wine you'd pair with it?

A perfect meal for me would highly depend on which season we are in and the available fresh products available. As a trained chef, I like to pop in a traditional food market, and wander around and pick whatever great things are on offer.

Of course, it depends whether I am near home or away.

Last but not least, the perfect meal is also made of perfect company, a party of 8 to 10 is perfect to try many wines, and share.

Let's say we are in May around our vineyards (fantastic season for fresh vegetables and nice seafood). We would have for a start a nice aperitif with a wide selection of local cold cuts, like Spanish Pata Negra, fresh green vegetables as a salad with Camargue salt and olive picholine oil, the famous brandade of Nimes toasted on Fresh bread.

This would be an occasion to sample some extra brut champagnes, from small producers. I would mention the Raymond Boulard house, as well as some marvellous vintage from Lallier, but also a nice dry Chenin blanc from Jacky Blot.

Then we would set up the plancha and have baby squids a la plancha with chorizo. This makes a terrific match with a dry Riesling from Alsace (or German from Mosel valley).

We could then have a fantastic Mediterranean seabass stuffed with fresh fennel in a salt crust. That could be the time from a Meursault Genevrieres from the Comtes Lafon, with reasonable age (10 to 15 years).

We would then switch on reds certainly sampling a wild duck fillet just ovened in a fig leaf, with a great Northern Rhône Syrah. I personnaly love the earthiness of Cornas, from Courbis, or Clape, but may others would do.

We could go on with a rack of lamb with fresh thyme, and search for a fantastic Grenache Noir, here the whole southern Rhone would do. From the unique style of Reynaud (Rayas or Fonsalette) to the smashing fruit of Clos du Caillou or la Janasse...

Then a cheese platter, mainly sheep and goat cheeses in this area, and you can dig into a Jura non oxidised white wine, or a very iodined great white from Grenache blanc and gris from Roussillon.

For desert, a nice white fruit soufflé would introduce us to great late harvests, which will range from Sauternes to Quart de Chaume, and trockenbeerauslese... not forgetting the fantastic Alsace grain Nobles...

For coffee, with dark chocolate, an old vintage port will lead conversations to last overnight... at least.

What's the most common misconception that people have about French wines?

I think a lot to do with perception of French wine and gastronomy is about too much complexity therefore it can scare people a lot.

French wines are very diverse, for sure, but what I always try to convey as a key message about wine is that it is all about enjoyment and sharing. Do not bother if you cannot make a 5 minute comment on a wine. Just think whether you like it or not, trust your own senses.

No expert can tell you what is good or not for you, the preference lies in each person own experience, so there should not be any social pressure built into the choice of a wine for an individual. Trust yourself and sample everything you will buy!!!

Is there a wine you've always wanted to try, but never had the chance to?

I would love to try all terroirs of la Romanée Conti, Burgundy reds can really be fantastic when made exceptional. And I believe this one is quite outstanding.

(For more info on Mr Baudet and Mas Neuf see:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oroya white wine 2005 Created For Sushi

An interesting blend and concept: The winemaker, Yoko Sato is Japanese and produces this blend of 60% Alren, 30% Macabeo and 10% Muscat grapes for Vino De La Tierra De Castilla, Spain and was specifically created to pair well with sushi. The label sports a clean and simple design of Japanese characters (letters), and the aromas and flavors follow suit. Very light straw in color, on the nose are floral notes with a mild minerality and lemon on the palate. Very nicely balanced. I actually did have it with sushi and I have to admit it really works. In the $10 range.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Paso A Paso 2006 Jorge Ordoñez Selections

© 2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Previously known as Mano a Mano, this deep ruby red wine is slightly amber around the edges, and is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes from the La Mancha region of Spain. It's aged in oak for 6 months and has slightly heavier than medium body. At first impression there are the aromas of warm fresh coffee in the morning, chocolate and ripe red fruits, then on the palate a dance of cinnamon and cherry with tannins that have some power, but not too much, and good balance. The 13.5% alcohol makes it formidable and it goes for about $11. Found this at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vigna Traverso Schiopettino 2005 Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC

From Friuli, Italy comes the Schiopettino grape once thought to be lost to extinction from the Phylloxera epidemic of the 19th century. On the nose are waves of chocolate, oak, cherries, and dried fruits set against a palate of concentrated sour cherries with a balanced acidity and dry finish. Sampled this at In Vino Wine Bar... $13 By the glass.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Luigi Cecchi & Figli Bonizio Sangiovese Di Maremma IGT 2005

This dry red Sangiovese from Maremma in southern Tuscany brings an earthiness, a fistful of fertile soil, and a primordial essence of the region to the nose of the wine drinker. There are also hints of leather, black fruits and a palate of ripe cherries with full flavor and a good acidity. Opens nicely to become a really good everyday wine with a Chianti attitude in the $10 range from The Wine Room of Forest Hills. Paired nicely with a panini with portobello mushroom, avocado and melted chimay cheese and a side of cucumber vinaigrette by Rita T.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Campo Viejo Reserva Tempranillo 2003

©photo by Dave Trieger 2008

This Tempranillo from the Rioja region of Spain is aged in oak for 18 months and in bottle for 18 more. I had originally thought it was 100% Tempranillo, but It's actually a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, and 10% Mazuelo... it's a deep warm ruby color, with medium body. On the nose are ripe fruits (almost strawberry), a bit of ash and a mild minerality, along with ripe fruits, sour cherry and licorice on the palate. The soft, full finish is excellently balanced, especially when paired with a good homemade pasta with meat sauce and a side of sausage and red and yellow peppers prepared by Jody A. The price for this gem was around $14 at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris Reserve 2007

I sampled this French white wine from the Alsace region at the Alsace & Rhone Wine Expo last week, poured by the importer, Michael Corso, and producer Pascal Schiele. Straw colored, this is a 100% Pinot Gris with a bit of honey on the nose, bright fresh flavors of citrus fruits, a slight minerality, pear, lemon and a crisp dry finish.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chateau Mas Neuf Costieres de Nimes Tradition Red 2006

I sampled this French red wine at the Alsace & Rhone Wine Expo this week, poured by the vintner, Luc Baudet. Deep purple rose in color, It is a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre and 10% Carignan and is designed to go well with food, especially duck or lamb. Aromas of bittersweet dark chocolate and black pepper are host to generous, bright flavors and luscious smooth tannins. Enjoyed this one very much.

Domaine De Coste Chaude Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan L'Argentiiere 2005

From Rhone, France comes this blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah produced by Marianne & Marc Fues, whom I met at the Alsace & Rhone Valley Wine Expo earlier this week in NYC. Marc told me the oak the wine is aged in (for 12 months) comes from many different regions, giving it an interesting character. Color is a dark ruby with a subtle fruitiness and black cherry with traces of licorice and vanilla. This is one of my favorites from the day and can imagine it accompanying roasts very well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trapio 2005 Bodegas La Purisima

Here's a another red wine from the Murcia Tasting at the Astor Center last week. This dry red wine from Murcia region of Spain is made from 100% Monastrell grapes from the Yecla Zone. The vines are some of the oldest of the region, some being more than 50 to 70 years old. Aged in new French barrels for 14 months and another 12 months in bottle. Color is dark cherry red and looks thick and unfiltered. There is lot going on here, especially on the nose... alternating between a raw vegetal scent like fresh bark stripped from a tree, and a very floral violet flavor. The finish is balsamic and the tannins are a bit astringent but hold my interest. I would like to try this decanted for a few hours to release its full potential.

Vigna Uva Vino website is now up and running....

but still a work in progress.... see link on right.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Juan Gil 2005 Bodegas Juan Gil Spain

This dry red from the the Jumilla region of Murcia Spain is made from 100% Monastrell grapes where whole clusters are macerated "Sur Lie" (On Lees or on the yeast residue) for 25 days, then pressed and aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Color is deep purplish ruby and on the nose is red fruit and a hint of minerality balanced by the oakiness of the barrels. On the mouth there are cherries and a very good balance of tannins and acidity.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tormaresca Neprica 2006 IGT Puglia

The name Neprica is a neat little combination of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet grapes (40%, 30% and 30% respectively). Dark, clear ruby red in color, this red wine from Puglia, Italy has cola and licorice on the nose with flavors of velvety dark spicy chocolate pudding and ripe blackberries. I feel like summer is here when I drink this wine and I'm happy for it. I'm falling in love with the Negroamaro grape.

3000 Años 2006 Bodegas Del Rosario

Here's a red wine from the Murcia Tasting at the Astor Center this week, from the Bullas region of Spain, a blend of 60% Monastrell, 35% Syrah, and the other 5% is not indicated on the spec sheet. Aged for 14 months in French oak and 6 months in the bottle, the first image to imprint itself on my senses is that of roasted red meats. The sensation at first is on the nose, and quickly moves to the back of the tongue, and is very pleasant and richly textured. Color is ruby red, and other aromas range from fruits and a floral hint on the nose, to vanilla and oak on the palate with a creamy woody finish.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Casa De Las Especias Crianza 2004

Another pick from the 25 plus wines sampled at the Murcia Tasting at the Astor Center this week, from Yecla, Spain, comes this blend of 50% Monastrell*, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah with 10 months in French and American oak and 14% alcohol. Color is a clear, ruby red. On the nose (nadiz) is a luscious fruitiness from the Monastrell, while the mouth (boca) has a floral freshness probably from the Syrah. The finish is long and smooth with oak influences. I like this one a lot.

* There was some speculation that the Monastrell and Mourvedre grape were one in the same, but has since been proven untrue by dna tests.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Divus 2006 Bodegas Bleda (Murcia Winetasting at Astor Center)

©2008 digital image by Dave Trieger

Starting off with my favorite pick from the 25 plus wines sampled at the Murcia Tasting at the Astor Center this week, from Jumilla, Spain comes this wonderful blend of 95% Monastrell (the lynchpin grape of the region) and 5% Merlot. It is aged in French oak barrels for 9 months and the result is a ruby red with a nose of ripe fruits, intense violets and fresh herbs. And I mean intense.... I could almost see the violets. On the palate are powerful meaty flavors contrasting with a pretty, balanced and velvety finish that remains full on the tongue for a good long while.

The tasting was led by Fernanado Gurucharri, President of the UEC (Union Española de Catadores, The Spanish Union of Winetasters)

More about the event and other tastings to come.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Primus Casablanca Valley 2005 Chile

Made from a blend of 51% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Carmenere, this wine is a robust, powerful (14.5% alcohol) red from Chile. The color is a deep garnet with the opacity of ink, full body, and on the nose there are red fruits and a barnyard funk. On the palate is bitter cherry, with bold tannins and a licorice and tobacco finish that is long and intense. The Carmenere is the legendary lost grape once used in Bordeaux production in the early 19th century and is now on the verge of an international reemergence. It is used mostly as a blending grape but can occasionally be found as a single varietal (see Santa Carolina).