Spanish wines have always been at the top of my list, so I was very pleased when the wine of the week for my class was a Rioja Crianza. I chose the Palacios Remondo La Montesa 2013. This wine was rated number 52 on the Wine Spectator top 100 list. It had beautiful aromas of cherry, blackberry dried fruit and oak and the palate also had some plum and black pepper. The wine was off dry with medium acidity and a medium body and had 14.5% alcohol. I was surprised by the exceptionally long finish of over 50 seconds. You can find this wine at under $15 at Costco and it’s one I’m going to stock up on!
There is a wonderful story behind this Italian wine. Back in the 12th century a bishop was on his way to Rome for a meeting with the Pope. Being a discerning wine lover, he sent his servant ahead to scope out the best taverns or inns for wine. The servant was to write est, (“it is or there is” in Latin) on the door when he came across excellent wine. Close to Rome in the commune of Montefiascone, he found an inn and wrote Est! Est!! Est!!! since the wine was so outstanding. The rumor goes that the Bishop was so in love with the wine that he never made it to Rome and stayed there drinking away until he died.
This inexpensive white wine is a blend of Malvasia Bianca and Trebbiano. I chose the 2016, Est! Est!! Est!! di Montfiascone, DOC from Pietro. The wine had 12% alcohol by volume was dry with medium acidity and was pale straw in color. The nose showcased kiwi, pineapple, flowers and peach and the palate had additional stone fruit flavors. It was crisp with a light, creamy mouth feel. It paired beautifully with my pasta and fish. At $10 a bottle from Total Wine, I’d highly recommend it!
Don’t forget to try our delicious Malvasia when you visit Sedona. You may decide not to return home!
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.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours and is studying for her CSW and sommelier certificates.