As I continue to explore the Loire Valley region in France, I thought I’d try another Vouvray or Chenin Blanc. Vouvray comes from the Touraine area of the Loire Valley, North of the Loire River. Chenin Blanc is an extremely versatile wine which can be made from dry to sweet and sparkling. I chose the Maison Alphonse Chotard, 2016 Vouvray. This AOC wine (the highest category of the French rating system) was purchased at Trader Joes and had 11.5%.
The color was a clear lemon, pale straw.
The aroma was clean with no off odors and was fruity with notes of honeysuckle.
The palate was off dry to medium in sweetness, with low acidity and had a medium body. It presented fruity notes with honeysuckle, apricots, citrus and honey.
It finished at around 26 seconds, a little shorter than other Vouvray’s I’ve tried.
Pairing and Comments
It paired easily with a sweetened, marinated Tuna Steak I created. The pairing took down a little of the sweetness of the wine. It was easy drinking, but I prefer a dryer Chenin overall. But for $8, it’s a pleasant wine.
If you like spicy Middle Eastern Food, finding a good wine to pair with it is not always easy. Last night I created a middle eastern chicken dish with a specialized blend of cumin, turmeric, cardamom and many more spices. I choose the Perelada Brut Reserva Cava to go with it. This Spanish, sparkling white brut was made with 45% Xarel-lo, 30% Macabeo, and 25% Parellada, was 11.5% alcohol by volume and aged for a minimum of 15 months.
The color was a pale gold. The nose had lovely aromas of lime and other citrus aromas. The palate also had some lime, stone fruit, peach and mandarin and was acidic when drunk on its own. However, when paired with the food it was smoother and was an excellent choice for the dish. This non-vintage, dry Brut had lovely small bubbles which lasted throughout dinner, and the finish came in at around 22 seconds. At around $15 it’s definitely worth it.
My daughter made an amazing Chinese Dim Sum dinner last night and we decided to pair it with a sparkling Rose’; the Schloss Bierbrich, Rose’ Sekt from Germany. The Germans really love sparkling wine and are the largest consumers of it in Europe, though they are only the third largest producer of sparkling wines globally.
The designation Sekt Troken in a sparkling wine is different than in a still wine. In a sparkling wine it’s not dry but more of an off dry. The wine’s nose had earthy, mineralistic notes to it and the palate showcased notes of honey, honeysuckle, and pear with a smooth mouth feel. This non-vintage, sparkling wine is a combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (known as Spatburgunder in Germany) and had 11% alcohol. The finish came in at around 30 seconds and the wine retained lovely bubbles during our dinner.
It was interesting to note how the palate was semi-sweet when drunk by itself, but when paired with our salty and spicy Dim Sum it appeared to drink quite dry. It’s a great buy at Trader Joes for under $10.
Sparkling wines have been around for ages, evolving over the years. The Classic Method or Traditional method of creating sparkling wines is used around the world. But the Term Champagne is used only in the area of Champagne, France with a few exceptions. Even other areas of France do not used the Term Champagne!
In the Champagne area, they use Chardonay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. However, each area of the world uses different grapes for making their sparkling wines, from Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabeo used in Spain’s Cavas to Glera and Muscat used in Italy’s Prosecco or Shiraz used in Australia. There are many methods of creating sparkling wines including adding carbon dioxide in less expensive wines. Though the English first figured out how to recreate sparkling wines in the 1600’s, the French perfected it!
What ever you choose, we wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
I bought an amazing rib eye steak and thought about what I’d like to pair it with. I rummaged through my wine cooler and found a 2014 Chateau Tumbleweed, 100% Syrah from Cimarron Vineyard.
One of the most outstanding things that Chateau Tumbleweed does, is put everything you wanted to know about a wine on their bottle labels. The wine was harvested on September 3rd and was grown at an elevation of 4300 feet. The wine was cold-soaked for 24 hours, punched down by hand 3-4 times daily and stayed on the skins for 11 days. It went through malolactic fermentation and was aged for 11 months in 20% new French oak. It was also unfined/unfiltered and came in at 15% alcohol.
The color was a deep garnet purple. The nose reflected notes of earth, prune and alcohol. The palate showcased flavors of mocha, raspberry, currant, chalk, and dates. I ended up aerating it to bring out more of the flavors. The wine though three years old could easily lay down for a few more years. Clearly this wine has an impressive ageability. Oh Arizona Syrah!
This week we celebrated National Sangria Day on December 20th, 2017. Sangria is a delicious, refreshing drink, in the summer but still very enjoyable in the winter. This drink is a combination of red or white wine with club soda, brandy, sugar and fruit . It originated in Spain and there are a large variety of recipes.
This is one of my favorite Sangria recipes using red wine since it’s winter time:
Make sure all ingredients are chilled. In a large punch bowl mix the juices and sugar. Add in the wine, club soda, brandy, fruit and ice if desired, Serve immediately. You can also add some cinnamon sticks for additional flavor.
If you don’t have time to make it yourself visit one of our Northern Arizona tasting rooms for some amazing sangria. Two of my favorites are at Oak Creek Winery and Javelina Leap.
This week my study group focused on Spain. Spain is renowned for many great wines, so it was hard to choose what to bring as a sample. In the Jerez area, Sherry is King. I found an interesting bottle of a still white wine made from the Palomino grape, which is one of the principal grapes of sherry production in Spain. The Vino de La Tierra de Cadiz, 2015 Barbadillo, Castillo de San Diego, white wine from Cadiz, Spain was a very pleasant surprise! Made from 100% Palomino grapes, this dry white wine showcases aromas of fresh fruit and citrus and the palate had notes of pineapple, citrus and kiwi. The mouth feel was slightly creamy and smooth. It has 12% alcohol and would pair well with fish, cheese and Japanese food. The winery also won winery of the year in 2015 by the Guia Penin, a distinctive Spanish wine guide. So whether you are choosing Sherry or still wine the Palomino grape is very versatile. Salud!
Lager, being a typically lighter beer, is frequently drunk in the summer. Now here we are in December, past Oktoberfest time, and celebrating Lagers! Even though we usually think of Lagers as being light, and a low ABV, they are created in a variety of strengths. Sometimes you might find a darker colored Lager and think that it will have stronger flavors, but that’s not always the case. Lagers originated in Germany and are created by a cold fermentation process. German Lagers had historically been darker brews and home to Bocks. German and European brewers tended to be under stricter brewing laws than in the United States, with limitations on additives, types of grains and preservatives. However, these laws have been changing over the last 25 years.
One of my favorite beers, Pilsners, that I drank a lot of in Prague, is an offspring of Lager. When in Mexico, I’ve been known to drink Negra Modelo, a darker Lager. And if you’re in Sedona and the Verde Valley, it’s a wonderful opportunity to try our local craft Lagers such as an Oak Creek Gold Lager. Don’t you just love these beer holidays? Whatever Lager you choose to celebrate with, enjoy the day!
My daughter is studying at Yavapai College in the dual Viticulture and Enology program. She had her Enology final last night and asked me to study with her and quiz her. I was amazed at how many of the questions that I knew the answers to. The depth of information that is covered in the CSW book and workbook is remarkable. There is still so much more to learn and I plan on starting over again in January. Next week my study group from Yavapai will be covering Spain, one of my favorite Countries for wine. What’s always fun with the Yavapai group study sessions is that everyone brings a bottle of wine from the country we are studying and therefore, we get to try a variety of wines from the area. Maybe I’ll write on one of Spanish varietals next week😊
One of the worlds most famous wines Cabernet Sauvignon, is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. So what is Cab Franc? It is one of the varietals in a Bordeaux blend and is frequently used in blends. It's also a parent of Merlot, tends to ripen early as well, and is softer than Cabernet Sauvignon. However, it is the main red grape in Chinon and Bourguell; wines from Touraine’s in the Loire Valley region of Northern France.
In honor of Cab Franc Day, I chose a 100% Arizona estate wine called Primos de Bordeaux from Rio Claro wines at Clear creek Vineyards. This 2012 wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot and has 13.9% alcohol. It is a medium bodied dry wine and showcases aromas of cherries, berries and brandy notes. The palate also offers flavors of vanilla and earth. The finish comes in at around 37 seconds.
You’ll want to decant the wine for about 45 minutes to bring out the full flavors. It paired beautifully with my grilled steak and garlic green beans. So I'm happy today to honor Cab Franc and its many relatives!
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours and is studying for her CSW and sommelier certificates.