WINE OF THE WEEK #121
It is HOT in Belgium, can you believe it?! Time to heat up your BBQ and go to the shop for some Malbec!
The reason why I picked two Malbecs from Argentina is simple:
ever since the grape was introduced to Argentina by the French viticulturist Michel Pouget, the marriage between Malbec and Mendoza has been very successful.
The vineyards of Mendoza look dramatic and beautiful.
On a plateau with high altitude close to the Andes mountains, Malbec gets blessed with 2 very important ingredients to produce a great wine:
- cool nights for the acidity
- intense and continuous sunshine for a well developed skin and nice tannins
Straight forward, right?
The only thing that worries me a bit is the information that is on the website of the Alamos winery. Multiple times they mention that this wine has had 88/100 points from Wine Critic Stephen Tanzer and that they put in the same amount of effort as other wineries do for their 30$ wines, and that they are twice as cheap.
This info is totally irrelevant in my opinion, but anyway, let’s taste!
The color is what you would expect from a young Malbec : as dark as it gets! Be sure to have a toothbrush in your pocket when you taste a lot of these…
What I like about the looks is the vibrant granate red and some transparency that appears when I swirl. It makes me believe there is some elegance in this glass of wine.
Like the appearance, the nose smells dark as well : charcoal, cured ham, toast, and some dark chocolate.
When I swirl, more spices and black fruits appear, but overall the nose stays true to the first impression.
In my opinion, the aging in oak barrels is not as integrated as it should be, but I am quite curious to taste this wine.
I remember me as a little boy making sandwiches with chocolate and ham, and this wine reminds me a bit of that…
What a bizarre glass of wine. This wine is way too oaky for me, and this is all I get up front : a toasty and rough experience. After this first attack, the wine is lost, and it is very hard to find elegance, balance and flavor. It stays very dark and inky.
When I cool down the wine, the balance gets better, but there are still issues.
The finish is a lovely surprise! Very dark again, with flavors of whiskey peat, figs and almonds. The bad news is that you have to swallow the grilled wooden stick again to get more of this nice finish.
For the price that I payed, €8, this is probably a wine that will be fantastic to have on the table on your family barbecue, when the kids are running around, you talk and eat and drink at the same time without really paying attention to what passes your throat. However, I am sitting here behind my desk, tasting with my full attention, and then there are just too many balance and elegance issues to be positive about Mr. Alamos.
Sorry dude, maybe better next time.
Theme of the month - MALBEC - June 2013
Hey ho Tumblrz,
last month was one of the more difficult months in a while. The Italian whites, where all of them but one did not deliver the goods like a fine wine should, disappointed me a bit. On the other hand, the fact that I didn’t find what I was looking for makes me even more curious to discover them.
Often when you look too hard, you don’t find what you are looking for, and sometimes, when you are not looking at all, something hits you by surprise. This happened to me a couple of months ago in a wine bar in Brussels.
We, my family in law and myself, were having a well deserved afterwork drink. We were buying wines by the bottle and I could take the first pick. I chose a Riesling from Alsace : Vincent Fleith, Riesling Steinweg 2008, which happened to be an excellent choice. After this dry Riesling, we wanted to go for a red wine, and I tend to like lighter red wines a lot (think Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera, reds from Loire, …), but my father in law is very focused towards more heavy hitters - even inky wines like Madiran. So we tried to meet in the middle and went for an old Cahors : Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve, Les Laquets 2004. I heard that Cahors, which is 100% Malbec, is often a very difficult and heavy wine, so I hoped that the age would bring some elegance and subtle flavors. I took my first sip and I was completely blown away! And 5 minutes after this revelation, I could once again erase all my preconceptions about the wines I like.
So my next line-up is a reality check for me, to see if I really like Malbec or not. I’ve picked 2 wines are from the South-West of France, one Cahors and one vin de pays. And I will compare these 2 old world wines with 2 answers from the new world, more precisely from Argentina, where Malbec has found a new home.
From left to right, you see:
Fabien Jouves - Omar m’a abuser, vin de pays Sud-Ouest (NV) €16
Viniterra - Select Malbec 2008, Mendoza Argentina €14,90
Chateau du Cèdre - AOC Cahors 2006 €13,50
Alamos - Selección Malbec 2010, Mendoza Argentina €8
I can’t wait to start!
See you soon,
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 (&FOOD) OF THE WEEK #113
as I’ve explained in my previous post about this month,
I had the heavy task to pair the wines with a 4-course meal that 2 of my friends and food bloggers prepared.
The first course was couscous with green herbs (basil, dille, …) with a fresh smoked salmon tartar. Next to the centerpiece were blobs of horseradish mayonaise and a splash of basil and garlic vinaigrette.
You can find the recipe of Hotcuisinedepierre on his blog.
So, what did this dish tell me.
On the one hand, a starter with fresh fish, especially a fat fish like salmon, asks for acidity and something sharp that cuts open your palate and slices the fresh ingredients. Something like a good Chablis or a Mosel riesling for example.
But on the other hand, the couscous and vinaigrette were more complex flavors, and so I also wanted to have a wine that wrapped itself around these flavors to avoid a conflict. A tiny tiny bit of sweetness can do miracles.
Combining freshness with roundness is almost impossible, but in my opinion, a rosé wine does the trick. Ask your local wine shop for a mineral and pale rosé and pair it with fresh salmon and lime, plus a green salad, and I assure you that you’ll get a smile on your face!
The rosé that I picked was the cuvée Essentielle from Domaine des Masques: a great winery that I featured on one of my previous posts (#110) in the IGP of Bouches-du-Rhône.
The rosé tasted like a pink sauvignon blanc : grassy, sharp and zesty to energize your palate and elevate the dish. And the roundness and a light punch of tropical fruits worked perfectly with the flavors. Even I was surprised how well the wine and the food played together.
I have to say, If you ever want the perfect summer rosé to go with your picnics or salads in the park, this is THE! wine to get. Trust me ;)
Theme of the month - WINE & FOOD - April 2013
When looking for new themes, I was wondering what was lacking on my list. Really lacking… and quickly I came to the conclusion that wine’s best friend is food. And I hadn’t so far said anything about food on my blog. Shame on me!
So about a month ago, I got together with 2 food blogging friends, 2 young guys who both go by the name of Pieter.
Pieter Declercq, aka hotcuisinedepierre.wordpress.com, is the most active and entrepreneurial food blogger I know. He’s building a name for himself at an incredible speed and he does that by cooking, and cooking only. (follow @hcdpierre)
The other Pieter, Pieter Van den Berghe, aka culinarty.be, has worked as a chef before and got frustrated by the quality of both the food and the work conditions of the food scene in general in Belgium. Working as an IT consultant, he pursues his passion for food from now on on his blog, and with no boss or pressure involved, he just cooks his heart out for friends pushing himself to the limit. (follow @pievdb)
I was lucky to play the sommelier for the 4-course meal that they put together. As usual, with a wine & friends evening, the diner was more than food and wine alone. Getting together and sharing thoughts, ideas, our passion for taste and a whole lot of other stuff is absolutely the best part of being a wino or a foodie.
My friend, guest for the evening and Champagne afficionado Filip Salmon (@filipsalmon) took the bubbels for the night : blanc de Chardonnay Millésime 2007 from Jean Michel. Full of minerality and with tons of acidity, this bubble with apple and citrus aromas was the perfect start of a fantastic night between 2 chefs, a sommelier and 3 guests.
So the next couple of weeks, I will explain my wine pairings and why I failed or succeeded in combining a dish with a glass of wine.
See you soon for wine & food pairing n°1.
WINE OF THE WEEK #110
let’s have syrah number 2 as winter has rebooted here in Belgium.
Today we are tasting the youngest wine of the bunch :
Cuvée Essentielle, 2011 Syrah from Domaine des Masques, IGP Bouches-du-Rhône.
Domaine des Masques is a collaboration (as you can almost see on the bottom of the label) between the belgian couple Carl & Sophie Mestdagh and one of the top wine makers of the Northern Rhone, Yves Cuilleron.
Typical about the IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) Bouches-du-Rhône is the terroir. The area is packed with plateaus made out of chalk at different heights. The vineyards of Domaine des Masques (as you can see on the picture below) has a height of 550m above sea level. A rather high plateau, which means lots of wind and cool nights, so I expect the wine to have a nice freshness and some structure.
I think the ingredients stack up : A nice terroir, a guy who knows how to grow Syrah, and a passionate family behind it.
I have never seen such a dark but girly wine. The edges on the surface are so alive, dark pink and jumpy! Really cool how much energy a wine can have and how feminine it can look.
On the nose, the energy continues. This syrah is vibrant, smells like raspberry, violets, black pepper and fresh beetroot. The nose is pointy, yet very wide, rich and even mineral. In a blind tasting, I would say it’s a Morgon or a Fleurie from a very good winemaker: pure, fresh, herbal and fruity.
The mouthfeel however makes it very clear that we are not dealing with a lighter grape like gamay, but indeed with a lot more power and structure. The attack is grippy and the juice is meaty, ready to chew on. But once you start chewing, the show is already almost over. But on the mouth, the wine stays fresh and tasty.
What you got on the nose is what you get on the finish. Fruity, juicy flavors of raspberry, violets and black pepper.
This wine is very poppy, easy to understand and one dimensional. Usually, I like my wines to have more than one dimension, and the wine should add complexity while going through the different stages of tasting.
But I just don’t care when drinking this wine. It is super fun, delicious, easy drinking and very very enjoyable. Who cares for complexity, this is pleasure, and at €7,90 an amazing!! drink.
Thank you Mr. Mestdagh and Mr. Cuilleron!!