Monday, February 27, 2017

Tasting Rosé with Gillian Balance M.S.

Southern Glazer brought in Gillian Balance to teach a Rosé Masterclass at their tasting in Houston last week which featured 100 rosé wines from around the world. The class focused on six wines in a New World vs Old World format.

Balance reminded attendees that rosé was not only the original red wine for the world's earliest wine makers, it is also one of the fastest growing styles of wine today. It has always been universally loved for its versatility with food. Served chilled, the weight, freshness and slight bit of tannic structure make it an excellent pairing partner for an array of food options.

While wine drinkers can find some typicity in the rosé wines of Provence, when they venture into New World regions, they may encounter a wider range of styles. Grape variety, climate and winemaking practices will all affect a wine's flavor profile.

The Wine:
Matua 2016 - This pale salmon colored wine is made from Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand. It is fresh with crisp acidity, fruit-driven with cherry aromas and tart cherry flavors with rose petals and an herbaciousness in the finish. A steal at $13 a bottle.

Chateau St Jean Bijou 2015 - This North Coast California wine is a blend of Barbera, Pinot Noir and Grenache which gives very fruity red berry/cherry aromas and flavors, soft tannins and a rounder feel. This wine has a higher level of residual sugar adding to the ripe watermelon finish. Balance called it the perfect rosé for Thai curry, only $13 a bottle.

A by Acacia 2015 - This blend of Barbera, Grenache, Syrah, Tannat and Tempranillo is a deeper salmon color than the previous two wines. It is offering up a mix of baking spice, dried fruit, apricot and citrus with a slightly smoky, lightly oxidized note in the long finish. A bit fuller bodied than than previous two, Balance said she would enjoy this wine with roasted pork and root vegetables, only $12.

The next three are from the same 19th century chateau in St Tropez in Southern France and shared a paler onion skin pink color. Chateau Minuty is located by a protected woodland area and farms without pesticides or herbicides.

Minuty M 2015 - Dry, medium body, slightly spicy with subtle peach and floral rose notes and a fresh
saline minerality in the lingering finish. Balance suggested this wine be served with crudites and tapas. Deliciously affordable at $17.

Minuty et Or 2014 - This wine is Grenache and Tibouren and shows more depth with bold sweet citrus aromas with subtle berry and citrus flavors, baking spice and a savoriness in the lingering saline laced finish. Also dry with a medium body, Balance thought this wine to be an excellent pairing for bouillabaisse or sushi. A step up in price at $36 a bottle, elegant, interesting and worth it.

Minuty 281 Rosé 2015 - This luxury offering has subtle aromas of white peach with mixed red berries with baking spice and an iodine laced finish. This wine is dry, rounder feeling with more weight, a slightly fuller body with a richer textural component making it a good partner for grilled tuna or octopus. Only $56 for this top tier bottle from a classic producer.

All six of these wines are highly recommended for springtime sipping and beyond.

*Tasted on February 20, 2017.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Hourglass Cabernet Franc 2010


The Hourglass Blueline Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2010 is deliciously drinkable with a surprisingly small amount of sediment in this 7 year old half-bottle. Less earthy than the Loire; fruitier with blueberry and plum, fresh mineralty, soft tannins and a bit of Indian spice in the lingering finish. I will be seeking more of this, highly recommended. 

The 20 acre vineyard in Calistoga is named for two meandering streams that frame the property. The Cabernet Franc is planted on the cobble and sandy loam soils of an ancient dry riverbed. 

Purchased by my husband a few years ago, I was not able to find this anywhere locally. Find other vintages of this wine at Wine Searcher. This wine contained 15.2 ABV.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Benvenuto Brunello - Houston

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello Montalcino was in Houston last month giving local media and wine professionals the opportunity to taste the newest vintage of the region's premium wines. Guy Stout, Houston's first and favorite Master Sommelier, led the guided tasting and seminar with Giacomo Pondini, president of the Consorzio. He opened with memories of the sights and tastes of his own visits there and assured the attendees that "Montalcino is a sweet spot on planet Earth"; encouraging those who not been, to go.

The Consorzio has given the 2012 vintage its highest rating of 5 stars and Stout said tasters should expect the wines to be "fresh, fleshy and upfront." The wines are all made from 100% Sangiovese and come from the Montalcino region of Italy. Stout went through the region's stringent production regulations and reminded attendees that wine style is always influenced by the choices of a winemaker in regards to barrels and aging.

The Tasting:

Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 - Stout referred to this wine as a "more modern style of Brunello" opting to age the wine approximately 12 months in French oak and 14 months in Slavonian oak. With bright juicy flavors of cherry, cranberry and raspberry the wine was fresh, smooth and easy to enjoy right now. $58- SRP

Corte dei Venti Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 - Winemaker Andrea Brocco introduced his wine. He opts for a more traditional approach at his family winery. The 7 acre vineyard yields looser grape clusters that ripen well on the clay and stone soils of the southern Sant' Angelo area of the region. The grapes are fermented in temperature controlled tanks followed by 36 months in oak barrels before bottle aging. The wine exhibited dried cherry and apricot with leather and a bit of tobacco in the long finish. Guy Stout pronounced it, "Delizioso!." $54-SRP

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 - Combining sustainable, diversified farming with a traditional approach to winemaking is how this fifth generation wine family creates wines of deep color with intense aromas and flavors. Winemaker Alessandro Bindocci also credits the 25+ year old deep-rooted vines on the property and says he believes that "Sangiovese should always be in the spotlight". Bindocci explained they ferment a bit differently using the submerged cap technique which keeps the must and grape skins in contact throughout the process. They exclusively use large French oak barrels for the first 36 months of aging followed by a minimum of 4 months in the bottle. The result is a bigger tannic structure with more pronounced aromas and flavors of cranberry, cherry, rose and black tea in the lingering finish. $85-SRP

Paradisone Colle degli Angeli Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 - Winemaker Federico Donini has a diverse mix of soils on his property. Four different wines are created from the different plots of this sustainably farmed 8 acre vineyard. The best is aged for 36 months in large Slavonian oak barrels with 30% aged separately in small French barriques and added to the other 70% after a year. Another traditional Brunello with cranberry, apricot, tea, dried leaves, cedar and a savory note in the long finish. $90-SRP

Sasso di Sole Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 - Located in the northeast part of the region, the winery's name means sunstone and it is in reference to a large rock that reflects light across the property. Roberto Terzuoli says the wines are fermented and then aged in stainless steel tanks for twelve months and then aged another 36 months in Slavonian oak. Stout called this wine " a solid, made in the traditional style Brunello". Good structure with a little tannic grip, well-balanced with cherry, leather, tobacco and cedar with a lengthy finish. $60- SRP

Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2012 - The vineyard has mineral rich sandy clay soils with a bit of gravel. Winemaker Andrea Cortonesi ages his wines in a combination of Slavonian oak barrels and French oak barriques for 36 months with an additional 10 months in bottle. Fruit forward with raspberry and cherry aromas and flavors. Guy called this wine firm, "with tight, almost puckery tannins" and felt it was a "modern meets traditional style". $72- SRP

Villa al Cortile Brunello di Montalcino 2012 - This wine was aged for two years in oak barrels and two years in stainless steel and bottle. Very traditional in style, it had aromas and flavors of roses, tart cherry, sun-dried tomato, leather, cedar and tobacco with juicy acidity and a long finish. $49.99- SRP

Villa Poggio Salvi Brenello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva 2011 - This wine is aged for forty months in Slavonian oak barrels creating a more traditional style. Tart cherry and strawberry aromas and flavors with dried oregano, leather and tobacco in the lingering mineral-laced finish. $85- SRP

All of the wines are highly recommended, consider picking one up soon. As Guy Stout concluded, "Everyday is a good day when you are drinking Brunello!"

Wines tasted on January 19, 2017. Also pictured in the collage is the Barbi Brunello di Montalcino, a favorite from the walk around tasting.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Vieux Château Certan Grand Vin Pomerol 2005

Vieux Château Certan Grand Vin Pomerol 2005 - Intense aromas of plum and violet dominate this full bodied, dry, rich red along with an earthy touch of mushroom and nuttiness in the long, mouth filling finish. Silky smooth, opulently elegant and very splurge-worthy!

My husband purchased this bottle for us for a special occasion under the advice of Bear Dalton, the fine wine buyer at Spec's Liquor Store over a year ago. A series of unfortunate events prevented us from consuming this when planned.

We enjoyed it over the holidays with a rotisserie rib-eye roast and immediately went looking for more. Though we were surprised at the youthfulness of this wine, we did seek out a newer vintage that I will be tasting soon, I will let you know how it compares. We were surprised to see that some from this 2005 vintage is still available for just under $300 a bottle in Houston at the downtown Spec's location.

Highly recommended for your next extravagant evening at home.