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Pairing France with … France!

Tonight’s dinner was a Provençal Zucchini and Potato Gratin Casserole. I wanted to pair it with a French wine (OF COURSE!), and was looking for something from Provence. When I went into our cellar, the ’08 Domaine du Cayron from Gigondas caught my eye! Okay, it’s not from Provence, but it IS from the Southern Rhone, which is pretty darn close geographically speaking. And it was a great match!Gigondas-France

A few years ago I was fortunate to visit Gigondas, a charming village located near Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone!  It is also an appellation that produces some fabulous wines, both red and rosé, with its vineyards sitting below the dramatic rock formation called the Dentelles de Montmirail.

For many decades all of the wines of Gigondas were simply Côtes-du-Rhône, but in 1966 they were elevated to Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages.  In 1971 Gigondas was deservingly awarded its own appellation.

By law, the red wines of Gigondas can be made of no more than eighty percent Grenache, and no less than fifteen percent Syrah and/or Mourvèdre.  The remaining blending varietal is usually Cinsault, but may be any other red Rhone varietal except Carignan. Confused yet??? One of the top producers of Gigondas is Domaine de Cayron, and I’m happy to tell you that their wines are distributed here in the U.S. Cayron-w-Glass gigondas-street

Now the 2008 vintage in Gigondas is not known to be stellar. The summer months were cool and had lots of rain, but I find this ’08 Domaine du Cayron to be fabulous. It has lovely plum, cherry and loads of licorice. There’s also a bit of garrigue, which pairs wonderfully with the Herbes de Provence I used in the casserole.

I have a 2010 (considered a great vintage) waiting for me next to the empty slot where this ’08 sat. I’m sure looking forward to pairing that with something special too!

 

Red, White & JOLY!!!

When it comes to the 4th of July at our house, we throw an annual Red, White & Bubbles celebration!!! A pyro pro from Disney World lives behind us, and provides the night’s entertainment. We, along with our friends, provide the wines. It’s always great fun to try a fun variety of wine with friends and fellow wine geeks to toast our country’s independence. 

One of the most interesting wines I cracked open for the 2015 Independence Day celebration was a bottle of the 2004 Nicolas Joly “Roche Aux Moines Clos de la Bergerie” Savennières.

Savennières is an AOC located on the right bank of the Loire River in the Loire Valley of France. La Roche aux Moines (along with Coulée de Serrant) achieved independent AOC status in 2011. In fact, the 7 hectares Coulée de Serrant AOC is owned exclusively by Joly! The Savennières region produces what many believe to be France’s most age-worthy white wines, usually made exclusively from the Chenin Blanc grape.

The 2004 Nicolas Joly “Roche Aux Moines Clos de la Bergerie” Savennières (100% Chenin Blanc) is a golden copper in color and has overripe apricot, yellow apple, honey, and almond nuttiness on the nose. The palate is ripe, not sweet, and is loaded with candied orange, baked apricot and honeyed nuts on the palate. The slight oxidation reminds me of a wonderful sherry. This exciting quality entices my nose and taste buds and makes me want more. Oh what a lovely wine this is, balanced by its acidity and concentration of flavor. Only 100 cases were made.

Nicolas Joly is one of the leading personalities in the biodynamic winemaking movement, having written extensively on the subject and having practiced this method of viticulture since 1980. Predating organics, biodynamic viticulture was developed in the early 20th century by Rudolf Steiner. This philosophy of agriculture believes that all parts of the universe are interconnected, and that the alignment of the planets and phases of the moon direct the progress in the vineyards and the winery. It actually makes a lot of sense to me, and Joly’s wines are great examples of why I’m a believer!

If you’d like to try some of the worlds most special and unique examples of the fabulous Chenin Blanc varietal, look for wines from the Loire Valley. In fact, head to the Savennières region and check out Nicolas Joly’s wines in particular!

Here’s a wonderful website detailing Joly’s wines, vineyards and viticulture philosophy:  http://coulee-de-serrant.com/uk/

 

Wonderful Whites from Alsace!

Alsace is a region of France that I have yet to visit, much to my chagrin, but whose wines I absolutely adore!

I recently found a bottle of the Trimbach ’08 Gewurztraminer at Wine Watch, a great wine store in Fort Lauderdale (another blog for another day!) and grabbed it. Tonight I popped it open!

Maison Trimbach has been around a long time, since 1626 to be exact. Twelve generations have continued their viticulture history, with the family vineyard being led today by Hubert Trimbach, his nephews Jean and Pierre, and his daughter Anne. The family produces wines from all of the classic Alsace varietals, but today I’m going to tell you about this ’08 Gewurztraminer.

Alsace is a prime spot for this aromatic and lively grape. Gewurtz (as it is often called for short) thrives in this region of France, and many “pros” consider this to be the prime spot to grow this aromatic and lively grape. 

The ’08 Trimbach has a golden color with sexy aromas of peach, lychee, pear and honeysuckle. The palate has honey, ripe  (almost jammy) pear, peach and is dry with a peppery spiciness on the finish. This wine definitely benefited from being cellared for a few years and is ready to drink now.

I recently poured Trimbach’s ’13 Pinot Blanc for a corporate event, and it was the “surprise wine” of the night. People couldn’t believe how much they loved it.

Trimbach is best knows for their fabulous bottlings of Riesling, but they do a wonderful job with all of the Alsatian varietals.

Yes, there is definitely a trip to Alsace in my not too distant future. Until then, I’ll keep lots of wines from the region in my cellar, with Trimbach being at the top of my list.

Lively White from the French Alps!

Spring is almost here and the warm weather is approaching. In fact, here in Florida we are already feeling the upper 80s temperatures one hopes to not experience until Summer. The best cure for that is to start opening some lively whites! So today I cracked open a 2011 Domaine Eugene Carrel Vin de Savoie-Jongieux.

This wine is made from 100% Jacquère, which is a grape that makes up fifty percent of the vineyards in the region of Savoie in France. The wine is somewhat rare, for mountainous Savoie is better known for the tourists who spend most of their time on the slopes of the French Alps, not for their wine. What a shame that is! Although wines made from the Jacquère grape in this region are finding themselves on the shelves of wine stores in the U.S. a lot more often than even just a few years ago, they are still uncommon.

This particular bottling is named for the village of its provenance, Jongieux. The wine is aged sur-lie (or on its lees) until it is bottled, which gives it a fun effervescence! The color is light straw with a touch of a green hue. On the nose are citrus and white flowers. The palate provides light and crisp lemon, lime, green apple, pear and just a touch of spice. The finish is lean and has a bright minerality, but the fruit persists. The Domaine Eugene Carrel Vin de Savoie-Jongieux would pair beautifully with many foods, but I keep dreaming of having it with a local Savoie specialty, fondue with big chunks of hearty bread for dipping.

If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, give Jacquère a try!  You won’t be disappointed!

 

2009 Les Vins Jean Claude Debeaune Fleurie Clos des Quatre Vents

I love this time of year.  The change of the seasons is finally approaching.  Here in Florida the change is slight, but I relish the heat and humidity slowly diminishing.  The cooler evenings encourage me to sit on my deck and open a bottle of red instead of white.  And what better red is there to transition from summer into autumn than a light, fruity Gamay?  It’s slowly becoming a Beaujolais time of year!

With my husband on a recent adventure in Beaujolais!

In case you’re not privy to all things Beaujolais, here’s some information in a nutshell:

Beaujolais AOC is considered the most basic, and will also be the least expensive.  The grapes for these wines mainly come from less distinguished vineyards in the southern part of the region.  A large portion of this appellation is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.

Beaujolais-Villages AOC is the intermediate category as far as the classification goes.  These wines come from 39 villages located in the midsection of the region where better quality grapes are grown.  Beaujolais-Village are often a blend from several villages.  Some wines from this appellation are also sold as Beaujolais Nouveau, but that is not very common.

Beaujolais Cru is the highest category of classification here.  In Beaujolais the phrase “cru” refers to 10 special villages, where in other parts of France “cru” refers to a specific vineyard.  The 10 Cru villages (more or less from North to South) are:

St. Amour – pretty, delicate wines

Juliènas – similar to St. Amour, but slightly beefier

Chénas – often keenly acidic, with notable minerality and fine tannin

Moulin-à-Vent – a top cru, very complex and muscular

Fleurie – aromatic, pungent wines that age well

Chiroubles – at their best, these are raw, gamey, and delectable

Morgon – another top cru; powerfully ripe fruit, amazing depth

Regnié – fresh, clean wines; generous, not terribly complex

Brouilly – dark wines, with notable bouillon flavors and strong tannin

Côte de Brouilly – a top cru: intense minerals & richness on the palate

The 2009 vintage in Beaujolais is considered to be brilliant.  Even Georges Duboeuf, the so-called “King of Beaujolais”, was quoted as saying “”For me 2009 is the vintage of the sun – in fact, this is the best vintage of my lifetime.  The [2009] Beaujolais Crus are opulent, exceptionally full-bodied and fabulous. This vintage will be talked about for years to come.”

So, the wine I cracked open to celebrate the beginning of fall was the 2009 Les Vins Jean Claude Debeaune Fleurie Clos des Quatre Vents!  I could see the opulence in the glass.  It was much darker in color than most Cru Beaujolais I’ve had.  I loved the aromas of jammy strawberry and black cherry, as well as violet.  The palate was elegant with strawberry, cherry and some great minerality.  This wine is a winner, and it has a nice price tag of about twenty bucks!  If you can find it at your local retailer, be sure to grab a few bottles!

Considering Beaujolais Nouveau is released next month, you may very well see my blog visiting this region again soon!

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