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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spring Tasting Part 2

The first part of April found me at Swirl Sensational Wines for the Friday night tasting, followed by Hopper’s Carte Des Vins and the monthly Wine and Cheese 101 at Whole Foods. All of which is chronicled in Spring Tasting part one

The second part of April started with a return trip to Swirl after I realized I was already on that side of town and tasting time was only a couple hours away.
That evening’s wines were the Bollini Pinot Grigio, a nice palate friendly Italian wine from Trentino, followed by the ever pleasant, mildly fruity Charles and Charles rosè of Syrah, Mouvedre, Cinsault, and Grenache.

Not being a big lover of Pinot Noir, I was pleasantly surprised by wine number three, the soft and refined Domaine Laroche De La Chevaliere, from the Languedoc. In fact, it was my favorite of the evening; perhaps it was because the wine is both fermented and aged in stainless steel. 

The last wine on the tasting was Route Stock Cellars Napa Valley Route 29 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is blended with 15% Merlot. Each was pleasant enough in its own way, but the De La Chevaliere really stood out from the rest.

I decided to stop by Santa Fe on the way home, and when Lale and Carlos asked if I wanted a glass of wine and I told them to surprise me. The last time I’d been there Carlos had poured me a wonderful fruity and floral Albarino, Namorio, from Rias Baixas.

This time he came back with one of the loveliest rosès I’ve ever tasted, Chateau de Campuget Costieres de Nimes, from the Rhone. A subtle, fruity blend of Grenache and Syrah, it was like springtime in a glass.

The following Thursday, at the former Cork and Bottle, now Pearl Wine Company, I had the great pleasure of tasting five more new-to-me, palate friendly wines; three whites, a rose and a red. I also met the new owner, Leora Madden. We had a nice chat about her plans for the shop and my activities with the wine group and Women and Wine on Wednesdays.

First up was the Bodegas Shaya Arindo, a rather pleasant Verdejo from Rueda; it had a mellow fruitiness and just a slight herbaceous tinge of something not quite grassy. 

Next was the Centonze Grillo a bright, equally pleasant slightly citrusy offering from Sicily, with a subtle salinity.

Third was the De Angelis Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio, a very pretty Italian offering from Campanga, with an interesting story. Composed of Falanghina and Caprettone (Coda di Volpe), the wine’s name literally translates to “tears of Christ of Vesuvio.” 

It seems there is a local legend that tells of Christ looking down on the beauty of Campania and shedding tears at the sight. Maybe it’s just good marketing, but that beauty is reflected in the glass when you taste the wine. There’s another story attached to the wine that has to do with Lucifer’s fall from heaven. I won’t get into that here, but if I’ve piqued your interest, you can read what has to say about it.

According to Wikipedia, Lacrima Christi has appeared quite frequently in poetry and literary works, including Hawthorne’s Rappachini’s daughter, where the drinking of it cause a story character’s “brain to swim with strange fantasies.” This wine should have been a part of the story in “Like Water for Chocolate.” I case you haven’t guessed by now, it was by far my favorite one on the tasting.

Moving on… the fourth wine on the tasting was the very delicate, very pale pink My Essential Rosè from Provence. A lovely blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, and Mouvedre, it is the first effort (of rosè) from master sommelier Richard Betts.

The final taste of the evening was from Honoro Vera. I’d had the Monastrell before, (find it at Swirl in the Cheap and Tasty section) but this was my first time trying the Garnacha. It was subtle, a little dry and not too spicy; I can’t say it was my favorite, but I’m sort of hit and miss when it comes to that particular varietal.

The next day I received an email from WINO about their free tasting of four Cameron Hughes wines-- there are also the three other tastings that evening. In the not so distant past I would have gone to WINO at 4:00, Pearl for 5:00, and then over to Swirl for 6:00 (wouldn’t have had time to squeeze in Martin’s).

I was planning on attending Fortier Festival on Saturday though, and Pearl Wines was holding an inaugural cellar tasting which promised to showcase anywhere from 15 to 20 bottles, so I decided to take the evening off from wine drinking.

Up next: The Pearl Wine Company Cellar Tasting

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring tasting, April 2013

The month of April has brought some lovely wines my way this year; some have been unfamiliar, and some I’ve had the pleasure of sipping in the past. In the last few weeks I’ve done more tasting than I have in many months, mainly because I’ve been keeping kind of a low profile for a while. 2012 was a difficult year with a few significant setbacks, and I just haven’t been getting out as much.

This month’s imbibing started out in the first week with four bottles at the Free Friday tasting at Swirl Wines. I was excited at the prospect of the first, a Grenache Blanc, the name of which I didn’t note, but it wasn’t a style that I prefer so I guess it’s just as well.

The next wine, Noster Inicial 2008, a plump, juicy red, from Priorat, would turn out to be my favorite of the evening. Really, they had me at Priorat. It is a delicious blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and I highly recommend it.

Wine number three was the very fruit driven Treasure Hunter 2010 Petit Verdot from Paso Robles. It was nice enough, not as dry or tannic as I had expected it to be. (You can read Beth’s tasting notes on Treasure Hunter on the Swirl and Savor blog by clicking here.

The fourth and final wine of the evening was the One Time Spaceman Moon Duck Red Rhone Blend, also of 2010, and also from Paso Robles. Another palate friendly and fruit forward wine; more interesting than number three, but still second to the Priorat (did I mention it was my favorite of the evening?) Unfortunately, I didn’t take detailed notes that evening, just a few cell phone photos.

The following day my friend Katrina wanted to go to Hopper’s Carte des Vins for a farewell tasting together before she departed for Germany to join her military husband. We’d forgotten about the time change and arrived at three o’clock when the bottles were significantly spent. 

We weren’t particularly excited about anything that day, but we both liked the 2010 Domaine Raymond Dupont-Fahn Auxey-Duresses Les Crais Pinot Noir. It was light, fruit forward, soft, and balanced. I look forward to someday having it again.

April 10 was the Wine and Cheese 101 monthly class at Whole Foods. This month Rob presented five bottles: four rosès and a Beaujolais. The first was one I hadn’t had in a while, Susana Balbo’s Crios Rosè of Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina; it was bright and bursting with berry. (We’d had the Torrentes at the previous month’s class).

Number two was the Sauvion Rosè D’Anjou from the Loire Valley, comprised of Groslot and Gamay. I found it to be light and a little vegetal initially, maybe because it was more delicate than the Crios, but soon the wine’s berry notes began to emerge.

The very lovely Gassier Sables D’Azur Cotes de Provence Rosè was the evening’s third selection, and my favorite of the evening. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignane and Syrah, (how could you go wrong?) it was delicate, pale and pretty, with soft floral notes and a long finish.  It came in a lovely bottle too!

Following was the Marques de Caceres Dry rosè from Rioja. Whenever I have this at a tasting, people are always fascinated by the deep color. The thin, almost brick red isn’t what most people typically think of when they picture a rosè wine. Made up of mostly Tempranillo blended with Garnacha, this bright, berry laden wine is the ideal rosè for red wine drinkers.

The final selection of the evening was the Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, also served slightly chilled. What can you say about Beaujolais? Light, slightly dry, slightly tannic, and with a long finish. It had just enough fruit to make it palate-friendly, though still not quite what you might consider a social wine.

The following Friday I was back at Swirl. More on that later...