While studying Beaujolais for our CSW class we tried wines from the Moulin-A-Vent (windmill) region. Moulin-A-Vent is one of the ten villages designated as a Grand Cru and lies in the northern part of Beaujolais. What makes this area so unique is its pink granite soil which is toxic to the vines and stunts their growth causing a more concentrated grape flavor.
I chose the 2013 “Les Chassignols”, Pascal & Jean-Phillip Granger. This dry Gamay based wine was unfiltered, with a Ruby/Granite color and earthy cherry and raspberry scents. It had a medium body and low tannins, and the palate also had notes of coffee, berries and earth with a bitter aftertaste. I paired it with Chicken. This is not the Beaujolais Nouveau that you get and drink around Thanksgiving, but a wine meant for aging. I’m not a big Gamay fan and I felt this could use more aging. Though the price was under $20, this windmill didn’t blow me away.
One of my favorite pastimes while traveling is visiting wineries and microbreweries. While on Maui, I had the opportunity to tour the Maui Brewing Company which sits on 5 lush acres of land. It’s an amazing facility that produces close to a million cans of beer a year. They’re working toward sustainability by charcoal filtering all of their own water and trying to go totally solar in the future. They recycle almost everything including their mash which goes to local farms. I tried their Bikini Blonde, Pineapple Mana Wheat, Coconut Hiwa Porter, Big swell IPA and Lahaina Town Brown Ale. All were excellent, but the Pineapple Mana wheat and Coconut Hiwa Porter were quite unique and give the term terroir for beer a real meaning. The Coconut Hiwa Porter showcased notes of toasted coconut, malt, coffee and dark cocoa. It had 6% ABV and the IBU was 30. So next time you’re traveling out to Maui, stop by for a pint and a tour.
Our 5th CSW class wine was an Entre-Deux Mers or any white Bordeaux. My choice was the Chateau Cote Montpezat, 2015, white Bordeaux blend. The vineyard grows the following white varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris.
The wine was a pale straw color with aromas of minerals, lychee and herbs. The palate had a creamy mouth feel with additional notes of honey and lime. It finished at around 35 seconds, was very well balanced and had 13% alcohol. I paired it with both fish and chicken. This wine was rated 90 points by wine enthusiast and received over 87 points by most other reviewers. It’s definitely one I’d buy again at around $20.
Arizona Stronghold is offering an amazing sale on their TAZI 2012 white wine. This blend contains 36% Sauvignon Blanc, 19% Riesling, 18% Malvasia Bianca, 14% Pinot Gris, and 13% Chenin Blanc. This delicious wine has a pale straw color with a mild light floral aroma. Like so many Arizona whites the palate is surprising and different from the nose with stone fruit notes of peach, and apricot plus plantains and minerality. It finishes at around a 30 seconds and has 14.1% alcohol. They are closing out this year to make room for more inventory, so this is a steal at $50 per case.
For our 4th CSW module, the wine of the week was a Fino Sherry. I chose the Osborne Casa Fundada, from Jerez Xeres Sherry, Spain, DO. It had a very clear, pale straw color. The nose offered aromas of honey, diesel and alcohol, while the palate tasted of bitter toasted almonds. The finish was short at around 17 seconds. The Sherry had 15% alcohol and was produced using the Solera and Cridera system. I must admit that other than cooking with Sherry, I’m not a great fan. Unfortunately, this fortified wine will end up being used in my meal creations rather than as an aperitif or being paired.
To celebrate National Pinot Noir Day, I decided to open a bottle of the 2014 Lincourt, Santa Rita Hills, Rancho Santa Rosa Pinot Noir, since I didn’t have any Arizona Pinot Noir on hand. The wine has a beautiful, clear ruby color. The nose is very earthy, with cherry, strawberry, and raspberry while the palate offers notes of tobacco, strawberry and cherry. This dry red wine, has low to medium acidity and a light to medium body. The alcohol content is 13.9%. It’s well balanced with a shorter finish at around a 22 seconds.
Last year I visited the lovely Lincourt winery, enjoyed a delightful tasting and bought many of their wines, but alas they were all gone. They had a great price on it at Costco, so naturally I had to buy a few for the celebration.
The 2016 Monsoon by Southwest Wine Center is a white wine as stunning as our Arizona storms. It contains 45% Malvasia Bianca, 45% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Viognier. It has a pale straw color, with medium acidity and intensity. The nose bursts with delicious notes of lychee, grapefruit, dried apricot and honeysuckle while the palate also includes a luscious honey/honeysuckle flavor. This dry and very refreshing wine offers a long finish at around 40 seconds. The alcohol content comes in at 12.8%.
I was a big fan of their Sunlight which won a Gold Medal and Best of Class Award at the 2017 Sunset International wine competition in Berkeley, California. I thoroughly enjoyed the new Monsoon. It’s unique from the Sunlight with added Sauvignon Blanc and different percentages of Malvasia Bianca and Viognier. A delightful wine to drink while watching our monsoons roll by.
For our 3rd CSW webinar class, the wine of the week was Sauternes, which comes from the Gironde department, Aquitaine region of France. My Sauternes was a 2011 G. Chevalier, white Bordeaux, 1st growth. It had a clear golden color with nice legs and a medium to full body. The nose was extremely intense with floral notes, minerality and honey. It was exceptionally sweet with low acidity and 13% alcohol. The palate had floral notes with peach and honey. The finish came in at around 22 seconds. This could definitely use more aging. I paired it with blue cheese, brie, French goat cheese and a baguette which worked exceptionally well. Since this Sauternes was around $10 from Trader Joes, it was an excellent buy.
This week’s wine of the week in my CSW class was Vouvray or Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Vouvray comes in a variety of styles from very dry to very sweet and also sparkling. I chose the Vignobles Lacheteau 2015 Vouvray. This wine was an AOP, the highest category of quality of wine in a French region. The alcohol content was 11.5% and priced under $10.
The color is a clear pale straw.
The aroma was clean with no off odors. It showcased tropical fruit, floral notes and honey.
The palate had light to medium sweetness, with medium acidity and a light to medium body. It offered notes of minerality, tropical fruit, pineapple and honey.
It had a nice long finish at around 35 seconds
Pairing and Comments
Though this wine was a little sweeter than I normally like, when paired with a creamy, salty beef it cut down on the sweetness and was enjoyable. The wine saw no oak and was aged in stainless steel. For under $10 at Trader Joe's, definitely a good buy.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours and is studying for her CSW and sommelier certificates.