WINE (&FOOD) OF THE WEEK #115
Ready for some more food-talk?
The main course of our fantastic evening amongst food and wine lovers and bloggers was absolutely a masterpiece.
Pieter from Culinarty.be had prepared a complex dish with Peking duck or “Canard laqué” as the main ingrediënt. What makes the duck so complex is the top layer of spices, honey, pepper and salt.
Next to the duck were incredibly delicious polenta cakes (with Italian herbs and parmeggiano added to the polenta), a fantastic puree of beetroot, green asparagus and turnip rolls.
At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the flavors and I had no clue wine wise. A little deconstruction of the dish helped me out:
- obviously, we cannot go around the duck. A lovely peace of meat : tender, juicy and fine. I could pair a lot of delicate wines with low tannins with the duck, like a nice pinot noir, a Beaujolais cru, or maybe even an earthy Barbera. But, the spicy honey cover makes it a lot more difficult. A stronger body, maybe some residual sugar, and especially a herbal wine are needed. An older wine from the Douro region immediately came to mind, because of the typical sweet ginger bread flavors that I like so much.
- the baked polenta with parmeggiano adds structure and body to the dish, making it again more difficult for a fragile wine to pair with the dish. Pinot noir isn’t an option anymore
- last but not least, we have a lot of earthy flavors : beetroot, turnip and asparagus. So I tend to look for stinky wines, earthy, and probably old world.
I stumbled in my wine collection on 2 wines that would match the dish in my opinion:
The first wine is cuvée Les Perruches 2009 from Pascal Lambert, a biodynamic wine maker in Chinon, Loire, France.
This 100% cabernet franc wine is very old world, with some menthol, herbs and licorice, combined with an undeniable elegance and acidity. The fresh cherry and “green” notes of cabernet franc are a very fun match with the pepper and sweet notes of the duck. This wine made our table very silent, and I would score this wine certainly a gold medal!
The second choice is Duorum 2010 from the Douro Valley, a red blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz.
This wine also showed a combination of red fruit, licorice and some nice minerality. The wine was juicy, herbal and very enjoyable, but the style bothered me a bit. As a result of a new and modern wine making project in Portugal, the wine tasted very much like a new world wine. The dish however, asked for something more old and rustic.
So, love the wine, but I am going for a silver medal.
Again, this one was a very difficult and tough choice,
and I would like to know from you what wine you would pair with peking duck, permesan polenta cakes and beetroot/turnips/asparagus.
Thx for leaving a comment,
WINE OF THE WEEK #092
I have only 12h left to review the final supermarket wine for you.
It has been an interesting journey so far, but I have been a bit disappointed in the choices available in the different supermarkets, and in the quality of the wines that I picked.
Plus, the wine peeps just echo what I feel : “I told you so” , “Never go to the supermarket, even if you only want to spent €6 on your wine”, and the most incredible one I heard was “Every self-respecting wine maker will give supermarkets their worst cuvées, even if they get the same label (and pricing!) as their better ones”
So, if this last wine is also performing below expectations, I think I might have to watch my back for the supermarket mobsters.
The last one is a wine from the Loire valley, Domaine de la Charmoise, AOC Touraine Gamay 2011. I bought it at Carrefour for €5,79
And for the first time I notice on the label “Vin Très Fruité” or “Really fruity wine”. Why oh why did I took this gamble again?
- First of all, it was because of the grape : Gamay is the backbone of the Beaujolais region. All wines there are 99,9% Gamay and are always very fruity wines with tons of character and depth. But, because the grape is so fragile, it will never be aged in (new) oak. So, the wine making process for a Gamay wine is less expensive.
- And of course, the region. The wines from the Loire valley offer very interesting wines for a low price. And the AOC Touraine might be the region that has the biggest QPR treasures in France.
- And that’s it basically.
Let’s just check out if I’m right or wrong, shall we?
Typical for gamay, the wine looks thinner than normal wine and slightly purple like a blend of raspberry and blackberry juice. So far, so good.
Ce vin est très fruité! And it does remind me of a raspberry smoothie. The reason why raspberry keeps popping into my head is because of this secondary note of twigs, leaves and just something with a bitter punch. I love the pits of raspberries, and I like the fact that the nose here shows freshness and maybe something vegetal, instead of sweet fruity candy flavors. So, I’m diggin’ the energy in my glass.
Ok, back to reality.
The wine is really interesting : good crunch, nice primary flavors of raspberry and strawberry, and a nice overall balance. So there’s nothing wrong.
But, … I miss some depth and extraction. It’s normal that a €6 wine is made with very high yields and thus lacks some flavor density, but I just can’t see why a wine maker would decide to work that way.
Because of these high yields, the wine keeps telling you the same story over and over again.
“Hi I’m fruity, I’ve been made to be refreshing and light.”
- That’s nice, and where do you come from?
“Hi I’m fruity, I’ve been made to be refreshing and light”
- I know that by now. Tell me, who’s your wine maker?
“Hi I’m fruity, I’ve been made to be refreshing and light”
So, I think we have got a silver medal in our glass.
Well made, interesting until a certain level, but not a wine that does the trick.
WINE OF THE WEEK #086
It’s time to pop the second bottle of bubbles.
This time I am tasting a french wine, but not a champagne.
We are going to the Loire region with a natural sparkling wine from
Chateau de l’Aulée - Brut Zero
I’ve visited the Chateau when I was on a short weekend in Chinon with my fiancé, her brother and his girlfriend. We had a fantastic time and stopped by Chateau de l’Aulée to taste some sparkling wines. The wine makers were born in Champagne, more precisely in the “Côte de Blancs” - a region where they only make champagnes from chardonnay, or a ‘blanc de blanc’ sparkling wine.
All the sparkling wines at Chateau de l’Aulée are very! affordable, yet made following the Champagne method, or Methode Traditionelle, with the much important second fermentation in the bottle. And what I really liked, was the fact that all their sparkling wines, even those who cost only €5 a bottle, have at least 24months “sur lattes” or second fermentation.
As I said in a previous post (#077) Chenin Blanc is the most famous and important white grape variety in the Loire region and is very similar to Chardonnay in many ways.
So what we are going to taste now is a ‘blanc the blanc’ sparkling wine, 100% Chenin Blanc, made following the Champagne method. So I guess it should get close to it.
But, what I am most curious about is the “zero” : no added sulfites.
That’s a first on my blog, so let’s taste!
(don’t forget to click and explore my wine map to see where the wine comes from!)
This is starting to look like real sparkling wine (I still have the last one from Brazil in the back of my head). The color is a mature straw yellow, bubbles are small and vivid. There are a lot of vertical streams of bubbles and I like it that way. (remember : 24months sur lattes gives a quality bubble)
Oh yes, this smells good!
The nose is round and fruity at the same time. Combinations of white chocolate and green apple, whipped cream with lemon zest, or brioche with almond cream are all possibilities to describe the nose.
The nose smells rich, round and it gives you an incredible need for food.
Remember, slurp and chew on the bubbles!!
I do so, and this nice gastronomic foam with citrus and sea shells fills up my mouth. Lovely. But…I do sense the wine getting out of balance a bit in the end. Especially acidity and alcohol become separate players and they both disturb the elegance of the initial attack. The wine transforms from a ball into a cube.
I would have loved the finish to be a bit more dessert like. Some creamy, oily or salty notes would have been nice. All I get on the finish is a fruit salad with green and red apples and unripe peaches. The acidity is even too strong for me. In some way I think it’s a fantastic finish because with food it will be superb, but tasting it as a standalone wine, I prefer a fat punch in the end.
So, this is a typical silver medal then.
The wine shows no flaws, is super well made and is my first experience with a Chenin Blanc sparkling wine, and a sparkling wine without sulfites. At a price point of €7,5 I should even consider a gold medal. But, it does show some issues here and there for my palate.
If you can help me find other good examples of Crémant de Loires, or have a any question at all, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
WINE OF THE WEEK #080
I’m not allowed to curse on my blog (I think) but godd*mned time flies.
We are already at our last bottle from the Loire valley and I would have had no objection if there would be another box waiting for me. The flexibility of the region is just amazing. And to showcase this, I saved the next bottle until the end:
Jean-François Mérieau - AOC Touraine- Cent visages 2009
At first I thought I picked up a rather special wine, because I did not expect to find a Malbec wine in the Loire valley. But, it turns out Malbec used to be one of the most planted grapes in the region, and it is also known as Côt ( just like in Cahors).
Luckily for me, Jean-Francois Mérieau is a rather special guy. He is a fantastic young winemaker who buys old vines from the region, replants them and tries to maintain the history and tradition from the region. Amongst his vineyards, you will find offcourse Cabernet Franc, but also Pinot Noir, Gamay, Malbec and Sauvignon Blanc. If that was not enough, he works the vineyards biodynamically and with very low yeilds to extract the best possible expression.
What I really like about this wine, and probably some other wines he makes, is that they are only slightly filtered. Unfiltered wines tend to be a bit funky from time to time, but if you really want to get the full expression (without being afraid of some funny or difficult flavors) of a grape variety or soil type, unfiltered wine is really cool te taste.
So let’s go! :)
The colour is absolutely stunning. It is a very deep grenade red and it has something burlesque about it. The longer I stare, the more I get lost in the glass. Dangerous!
Wham! It’s like somebody is squeezing fresh fruits in your face.
Never felt so much energy and pleasure.
The nose is literally packed with black fruit : black cherry, prunes and just a hint of pomegranate. And now that I am writing these notes, the fruit is making place for some other cool stuff : leather, pencil shavings, bacon, chocolate and very strong punch of (have a seat) grinded poppy seeds.
The nose is so complex, yet so playful and vivid, I just want to drink it!
I don’t know what to say and I’m very amazed.
This wine is the exact opposite of rocket science: it is a direct link with nature: so fresh, light, delicious, soft, full of flavor and amazingly balanced.
A wonderful layer of prunes and more red fruits now is carried by this black dusty component. I described it as pencil shavings and poppy seeds on the nose, but it now acts more as a kind of smooth oily dark layer, like if they added a drop of soy sauce to the wine.
There is no particular evolution on the finish, but the wine just keeps on doing what started on the nose. It keeps me busy, it keeps me sippin’ again and again and I got the feeling this is what wine would have tasted like 100 years ago.
The link that I feel with nature right now, the amazing expression of grape and terroir, and that extra layer of magic makes this just an epic bottle of wine in all its simplicity. Try it!
WINE OF THE WEEK #079
I can’t believe this is already the third wine of the Loire valley theme. They say time flies when you are having fun, and lately, I am having tons of wine fun. I have never been to so many tastings and wine events. Sometimes it would be easy to forget to taste the wine of the week, but it has become such a ritual over the past 1,5 years that I would start to feel awkward if I skipped one.
Lately I have been scoring a lot of gold medals and I am starting to doubt:
Is my tasting getting sloppy and do I just want to enjoy the wine I opened, or am I starting to understand my own palate better? What I do know is that I am very happy with the next wine :
Thomas & Fils - AOC Sancerre , cuvée Grand’chaille 2010
I was absolutely sure I wanted a Sauvignon Blanc based wine in my selection for this month. It is easy to focus on the central part of the Loire valley and only pick Cabernet Franc based red wines and Chenin Blanc based white wines, but I know I really like the 2 AOC’s in the eastern part of the region where they produce white wines from the Sauvignon Blanc grape : Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé.
The center of France used to be, way back in history, a sea in between different ice age periods. This means that the soil in Sancerre is made up of layers and layers of chalk and limestone. The city of Sancerre is build upon a hill of this type of soil, and the vines are planted on the slopes around the city. A high porosity is typical for chalk and limestone, so the roots have to dig deep for water and the vines have to work hard to feed the grapes.
If that was not enough for our poor little vines, the continental climate in the center of France is quite hard : cold winters, hot summers and high possibility of morning frost during mid-season.
The good thing about all this : the vines become athletes and they produce well concentrated grapes full of expression and material. Wines from Sancerre are known for their precision and energy.
I am ready for a white boost, so let’s go!
Exactly what I was expecting. A very light lemon yellow, bright and very feminine.
The nose has some troubles with the expression.
I have to dig deep to get my imagination going and to pick up some notes:
What I do get is lemon, and as far as the fruit goes, it is 90% lemon and the other 10% reminds me of white peaches.
While sniffing along and writing about the fruit, I am discovering a second layer, and I am thrilled. It actually shoots me back to the Soil Searching theme I did a long time ago, where I tasted 4 rieslings on 4 different types of soil. And I can assure you I am smelling the chalk and limestone.
I would describe it as a round and slightly fat sub-layer that is a perfect counter balance for the fresh and acid fruit. It does not really add an expression, but it is more like a background image.
The nose underperforms a bit in my opinion, but who knows what I am going to taste now…
The wine has a good kick start. A nice punch of acidity gets the juices flowing in your mouth. What follows next is texture : a very dense, tickling feeling takes over your mouth and it makes you wait for the flavors to burst…
And then…the wine hesitates… and nothing really happens. Close, but no cigar.
Although the very intense feeling is well balanced, I lack flavor and development as I taste along.
Strangely enough, the finish is nice and fruity again. The lemon stays, but added to the fruit punch are hints of melon and apples. I guess it is the roundness of the soil that adds these more sugary and less acidic fruit notes.
This wine is a typical example of a silver medal wine. It has really interesting aspects and I am happy to taste this wine, but I won’t offer this wine when a friend comes along. I would like to taste other vintages of this wine though, because I think the knowhow and the potential is definitely there.
WINE OF THE WEEK #078
Hi girls & guys,
let’s taste another wine from the Loire valley!
Today we are going to taste a wine from Chinon, an AOC in the center of the Loire valley : WILFRID ROUSSE - AOC Chinon - Clos de la roche 2008
The reason I picked this wine goes way back in time.
One of the first people that showed me that wine could be fun, enjoyable, interesting and worth talking and writing about, was Gary Vaynerchuck. I started watching his WLTV shows in 2010 and eventually I bought my first wine to be featured on my blog on christmas in 2010.
What I can remember like it was yesterday was his neverending stories about the value of Chinon, a hidden gem in the rich wine history of France. It was clear to me that I had to try a Chinon once, because that’s exacty what I’m looking for : value for money.
The style of Chinon is all about freshness and expression, not about age and muscle. That’s exactly why the wine is very popular locally and thus it never gets into the cellars of big collectors, meaning low attention on the international market.
This wine is a good example of Chinon. It’s made 100% from Cabernet Franc grapes, on a south facing slope consisting of limestone and tuffeau : a sub-soil of old sea sediments (chalky but with higher porosity), used to build most of the old local houses and wineries. This is actually very beautiful when you drive (or bike) across the region.
The Clos de la Roche is from the best vineyard of the domaine of Wilfrid Rousse, with vines planted in 1950. The wine is aged in oak, but in old 600l barrels, called “demi-nuits”. The bigger the barrel, the less contact between the juice and oak, so the typical oaky flavours will probably not come through.
I could talk alot more about Chinon, but I bought this wine to taste!
Let’s just open it up and go!
It’s cherry! Nothing rustic or brown about it, just a nice and vivid cherry red.
I got a very interesting experience at my first sniff, I smelled an italian wine, and if I had to guess: “Barbera”.
The wine does not only have a cherry colour, but also a cherry nose, together with violets.
But sniff again, and you’ll know it’s not Barbera.
The nose is a lot more funky if you give it some time :
I smell bell peppers with caramel, oregano and white pepper, and menthol (bloggers @vickywine and @thewinesleuth learned me picking up menthol) and I can assure you there are some animals running around as well. Can’t tell you if it’s a dog, a pig or a sheep. But this wine is definitely not ‘urban’, if you know what I mean.
Really liking it!
This wine hits 2 of my weakest spots at the same time:
1. Balance and softness. What I want from a red wine is it to be soft and velvety, and at the same time show nice freshness to develop extra flavours. This wine does an absolutely perfect job.
2. If point 1 is a fact, then I start hoping for part 2. Maybe it’s because of the old vines, maybe just good wine making, but I am so happy if I taste terroir. There is a link that you can really taste, I mean it, between the herbs and spices (pepper), tasty tannins and delicious fruit. Tasting that link, or terroir, makes it possible to close your eyes and teleport yourself to a place that fulfills your imagination.
That is wine at its best.
On the finish, and it is starting to get really funky now, I taste a church. Wax from the candles, a wooden floor, the herbs from the rituals, a cool climate and a sense of history.
I will have to be honest after this rather glorious review.
Yesterday I opened the bottle during dinner and I thought it was ok, but I struggled to understand what the wine was trying to tell me. I put the bottle in the fridge at night and this morning at 10am I put it on the table again. Now, at 11am in the morning, with my tasting buds all fired up, the wine at probably 16°C and home alone, I feel and taste so much more and the wine just blows my mind.
And maybe that’s my only remark. This wine needs and intimate moment because it is so delicate and breakable, yet so powerful when you taste it in the right conditions. So my advice is, be careful, but go out and try it!!! Wow. (To give you an idea, this wine was €12 at the Vitiloire wine fair.)