Monday, November 21, 2016

Beaujolais Masterclass with Geoff Kruth, M.S.

Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth hosted a GuildSomm Beaujolais Masterclass in Houston last month where he discussed the wine region of Beaujolais, the crus and presented tastes of what he considers to be some of the best wines from the region.

Beaujolais is located north of Lyon in eastern France. It is known for its granitic-based soils and fruity red wines made from the Gamay grape. It has ten crus that run from north to south.

The Wines:

  • Beaujolais-Villages Blanc, Dufaitre 2015 - The only white wine of the day, this dry Chardonnay-based wine had an interesting oxidized nuance with a slightly savory finish.
  • Beaujolais Dupeuble 2015 - Kruth called this red "a good, straight basic Beaujolais" made in the classic style with some structure and typical fruity and floral aromas with a banana leaf nuance.
  • Chiroubles Daniel Bouland 2015 - This red wine showed strawberry aromas and flavors and was a bit more tannic than is typical which Kruth said was vintage driven. He believes this wine will be even better next year. The higher elevations and pink granite sandy soils of this smaller cru typically contribute a more delicate floral note to the region's wines.

  • Brouilly Dufaitre 2014 - Dried cherry with a bit of a green walnut nuance due to some slight oxidation chosen by the winemaker created a texturally interesting wine that was less fruity than I was expecting.
  • Régnié "Grain & Granit" Charly Thévenet 2014 - The youngest of the crus, Régnié is known for producing more concentrated wines. In the glass, this biodynamic wine had mixed berry aromas and flavors with some earthiness and green notes.
  • Saint-Amour Pascal Berthier 2015 - This is the most northernly of the crus. This wine had the typical cherry liquor, cherry fruit, slightly spicy cherry deliciousness for which the area is known.

  • Fleurie "L'Alchimiste" Anne-Sophie Dubois 2014 - More complex with dark berries and peach and a bit more savory with a hint of a green or vegetal note.
  • Juliénas "Beauvernay" Domaine Chignard 2015 - From a riper vintage, this wine is fruitier and a bit more tannic than is typical from this mid-sized cru.
  • Côte de Brouilly Château Thivin 2015 - Spicier with white pepper notes over cranberry aromas with blackberry flavors, a bit more structured, more tannic. My favorite of the line-up.

  • Morgon "Vieilles Vignes" Guy Breton 2014 - From the second largest of the crus, this wine was an earthier style with a sour beer note.
  • Chénas "Aux Pierres" Granger 2013 - Kruth noted the "length and tension" on the palate with this wine. It is from the smallest of the crus and the wines are considered to be some of the best for aging in the region.
  • Moulin-à-Vent Château des Jacques 2013 - De-stemmed fruit, made more like a traditional Burgundy, this wine was decidedly different in style to the other red wines. Kruth felt this wine had the most age-ability. I liked the spicy notes.


Wines were tasted on Monday, October 24, 2016. All are recommended!
Follow this link to learn more about Beaujolais wines.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wines from the Country of Georgia

Wine production is believed to have begun in this region over 7,000 years ago. There are over 500 indigenous grape varieties in the country grown across ten major viticultural areas. The industry is dominated by small, artisanal winemakers.

The wines:

  • NIKI ANTADZE, Rkatsiteli 2014 - This dry, white wine is made from organic Rkatsiteli grapes fermented in qvevri with no skin contact. It is yeasty with a Belgian beer nuance; it has a creamy texture from lees contact and good acidity.
  • NIKI ANTADZE, Rkatsiteli 2014 - This dry, white wine is made from organic Rkatsiteli grapes with some left in whole bunch clusters which were then fermented in qvevri with six months skin contact. This wine has a richer texture, it is more mouth-filling with aromas and flavors of dried fruits and walnuts with a light black tea note.
  • OUR WINE, Tsarapi Rkatsiteli 2013 - This dry, white wine was made from biodynamically- farmed Rkatsiteli grapes fermented in qvevri for six month. This wine has a very unique smoky nuance with apricots and citrus with a lingering fresh, flinty mineralty in the finish. My favorite of the white wines.
  • SHUMI, Tsinandali 2014 - This dry, white wine is from the Kakheti region which is located in the east. It was fermented in oak barrels and it is dry, citrusy and slightly oaky.
  • GIORGI REVAZASHVILI Chinuri 2014 - This dry, creamier feeling white wine is derived from organic Chinuri grapes from the Kartli region also located in the east from a high elevation vineyard. It has tropical notes with chamomile and lemon pith and a fresh finish.
  • PHEASANT'S TEARS, Tsolikouri 2015 - One of the most well-known Georgian winesinternationally, this dry, white wine is made from organically grown Tsolikouri grapes which were fermented in qvevri with minimal skin contact. Dry and crisp, this wine had notes of honey and yeast with a slightly earthy minerality in the finish. Fresh and interesting.
  • ORGO, Kisi 2013 - This small organic winery sources the Kisi grapes from 50 year old vines in the Kakheti region and ferments them in qvevri for six months with skin contact throughout. This dry, unfiltered wine is aromatic with apricot, pine and black tea, complex and fuller bodied.
  • AMIRAN, Otskhanuri Sapere 2014 - This rustic red wine is made from the Otskhanuri Sapere grape variety from the Imereti region located in the west. The wine was fermented with the skins in qvevri for nine months producing a high acid with dusty tannins and a mineral finish.
  • KINDZMARAULI MARANI, Kindzmarauli 2014 - This off-dry red is made from Saperavi grapes from the Kakheti region which were fermented in stainless steel. This wine is smooth with pronounced mixed berry aromas and flavors through the long finish. 
  • ORGO, Saparavi 2014 - This dry red is also made from old-vine Saperavi grapes from the Kakheti region which were fermented in qvevri, then aged in a combination of qvevri and stainless steel. This wine was fresh with pomegranate and berry aromas and flavors, velvety smooth tannins, fresh acidity and a lingering finish. More elegant, my favorite of the red wines.
  • PHEASANT'S TEARS, Saparavi, 2015 - This organic red wine was also made from Saperavi grapes from the Kakheti region which were fermented in qvevri. This wine was very dry with a bigger structure with pronounced aromas of peanut butter and blackberry jam on toast with a light savory note in the long finish.


Notes from the Georgian Wine Expedition, a lecture and tasting held in Houston on October 18, 2016.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé is a sparkling wine from California made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes in the traditional method. It  has aromas of mixed berries with yeasty notes, fresh acidity and a clean finish. Recommended at approximately $18.

I have found this affordable pink sparkler to be a guaranteed crowd pleaser for many years. It makes an excellent party wine and will work with a wide array of menus. It's easy to find, always consistent and perfect for the holiday season.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Astoria Prosecco DOC Treviso

Astoria Prosecco DOC Treviso* has light fruity aromas and flavors of peach and pear with a  touch of sweetness in the fresh citrusy finish. 

This traditionally made Extra Dry Prosecco comes from a four generation wine-making family. This wine is recommended and is a bargain at approximately $14.

*Media Sample

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Notes from an Austrian Wine Tasting

Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, was recently at Camarata at Paulie's to teach a seminar on the 7 Elements of Uniqueness in regards to Austrian wine. He said the wines of Austria are defined by an aromatic freshness combined with full physiological ripenesss. David Keck, M.S. was integral part of the discussion and shared his thoughts on the wines as well.

The unique elements that help make Austria an exceptional producer of wine are: 
1) The cool climate which helps to create the crisp, aromatic style.
2) The land which sits at the same latitude as Burgundy and has, in addition to the typical river valley and hillside growing areas, vineyards in the capital city of Vienna. They also boast a diverse range of soils to suit the array of grapes.
3) A signature grape, Grüner Veltliner, which has become a by-the-glass restaurant favorite. In addition to this, they have a number of other grapes, both indigenous and international, that can be made in diverse styles.
4) A wine culture that has existed and evolved for 2,000 years. The quest for quality is showcased not only in the wines but in the innovative and modern new wineries.
5) The typical smaller winery still prevails, information is passed through family members who have worked together for generations. In addition to a quest for quality, the people just enjoy what they do, says Willi Klinger. 
6) An overriding respect for nature exists not only in the wine industry but throughout the country. 10% of the vineyards are organically farmed and 3/4 of them are part of a government supported minimum intervention program.
7) The food friendliness makes wine pairing easier. The wines of Austria typically maintain good natural acidity and work well with a variety of cuisines including from China and other Asian countries that often conflict with more mainstream varietals. 

The White Wines:

2015 is considered to be an excellent vintage in Austria and the first three wines were from this year.


  • Ott Bernhard "Am Berg" Grüner Veltliner 2015 - Sourced from Niederösterreich or Lower Austria, this wine is a lighter style of Grüner Veltliner from a biodynamic producer with only 11.5% abv with typical white pepper notes and a savory finish. SRP $18
  • Christ Wiener Gemischter Satz 2015 - This wine is a field blend of grapes, co-fermented into a refreshing, light wine perfect with assorted hors d'oeuvre. SRP $ 24
  • Tinhof Neuburger 2015 - From a biodynamic producer in Burgenland, this Neuburger wine is a medium-body, softer wine with fresh aromas of apricot and raw almonds with a lingering mineral finish. SRP $24
The next three wines were all Grüner Veltliner from the Kremstal DAC. They all had a similarity, showing classic Grüner Veltliner characteristics and according to David Keck M.S., they all share a "pretty, filigree character."

  • Malat Höhlgraben Grüner Veltliner 2013 - White pepper, green almond with a light savoriness. SRP $27
  • Stadt Krems Wachtberg Grüner Veltliner Kremstal Reserve 2013 - This wine is sourced from the rocky Wachtberg vineyard on the Danube, it has white pepper aromas and flavors with a savory note and a pronounced nuttiness in the lingering finish. SRP $40
  • Stift Göttweig Gottschelle Grüner Veltliner Kremstal Reserve 2012 - Also sourced from a single vineyard on the Danube, the Gottschelle, this wine was a bit softer and rounder due to the slightly warmer year. It has white pepper aromas and flavors with green almond and a savory finish. SRP $40
Dry Riesling from two different areas and vintages and one Sauvignon Blanc. Willi Klinger named 2013 as the classic vintage in Austria for Riesling. 

  • Müller-Grossmann Steiner Point Riesling 2015 - Light, fresh. Dry, clean, linear, very floral. An elegant wine. SRP $24
  • Holzapfel Vorderseiber Riesling 2011 - The Vorderseiber vineyard area is at a higher elevation in Wachau. This was a warmer year for the area. This was a riper style, a rounder, richer wine with some petrol minerality. SRP $50
  • Sabathi Hannes Kranachberg 2013 - Sourced from the Kranachberg vineyard in Südsteiemark, the only Sauvignon Blanc area in Austria, this wine has apricot aromas and flavors, beautiful balance and a saline minerality in the finish. SRP $55

The Red Wines:

  • Umathum Zweigelt 2013 - This was a cooler year for reds resulting in a light, fruity red with an herbal sage note and a touch of smokiness in the finish; fresh and easy-drinking, this would make a great Thanksgiving Day wine. SRP $21.50
  • Rosi Schuster Sankt Laurent 2012 - An excellent year for reds, this wine is very dry with cherry aromas and flavors, somewhat pinot noir-like but more robust. SRP $ 24
  • Markus Altenburger Leithaberg Blaufränkisch 2012- A lusher style red wine, David Keck M.S. described this Reserve wine as "a fleshy, richer style' of the variety from a monumental vintage. SRP $ 35
  • Iby-Lehrner Mosso Cuvée 2012 - This dry red is a blend of Blaufränkisch, Merlot and Syrah. SRP $16

The Sweet Finale

  • Wenzel Beerenauslese Riesling Eiswein 2006 - Fresh ripe peach aromas with a lingering honeyed finish, an elegant ending. SRP $ $38

Wines tasted on October 13, 2016.