Category Archives: Rose

Sparkling Summer Wines

Over the summer I enjoyed a number of different sparkling wines and Champagnes. Most of us think of sparkling wine as something that should only be drunk on special occasions or at Christmas and New Years, but I don’t agree.  Sparkling wine can be enjoyed all year round and I especially like it in the summer and always with food. Here are some of my favorites.

Brut Rose “Faive” NV  Nino Franco (Veneto) made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are vinified separately with some skin contact for color and cold fermentation in stainless steel autoclaves. The wine is light salmon in color, with good bubbles, nice red fruit and a hint of pear. $17

The name Faive is Venetian dialect for the small “guided” tongues of flame and sparks rising toward the sky from a great fire, lightly and freely carried by the wind.  This producer is known for it’s high quality Prosecco and the Rustico is a great value for the money.  We drank a bottle of it with the plump ripe figs from the tree in the Brooklyn backyard our friend Tony Di Dio.  Both Tony and his fig tree were featured in an excellent article — with recipes — in the NY Times last Wednesday.  Here is a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/29/dining/in-brooklyn-an-abundance-of-fig-trees.html?_r=1&hpw

Spumante Santé Brut IGT 100% Falanghina (Campania)  Donna Chiara. The soil is chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, owner of the winery, always refers to the vinification system used as the Martinotti method. (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s.) Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it is fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It is great as an aperitif and with fried foods. $20
Champagne Delamotte NV made from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier.   Delamotte is the sister house of Salon and both are part of the Laurent- Perrier group. We had it with a lobster salad with basil dressing, an excellent combination. $38

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2004 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage made from80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This is a vintage Rosé from the Lunelli family estate vineyards.  The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September on the hills surrounding Trento, with either southeastern or southwestern exposure between 1000 and 2000 feet above sea level.  In 2004 there was mild weather and perfect ripening conditions.  The wine is aged 5 years on selected yeasts. It is an elegant and complex Rosé with ripe red berry aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and a touch of almond.  I has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. I had it with beet and ricotta gnocchi in sage butter sauce. $75
I believe that Ferrari makes some of the best Method Classico wine in Italy.

Champagne “Grand Siècle” Crand Cuvèe NV Laurent-Perrier (Trous-sur Marne) made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.  12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. I believe this is a blend of three different vintages. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has great tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food.

The 17th century in France, the era of Louis XIV, became know as the Grand Siècle, the Great Century and Louis XIV was the first king of France to drink Champagne.

Zucchini Flowers

I was very impressed with this wine when I had it at a Wine Media Guild tasting last December and I wanted it for my Birthday.  Michele made zucchini flowers fried in a light tempura batter stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, which I love. We usually have them with Prosecco but it was a celebration so only Champagne would do.  It turned out to be a perfect combination.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000 Blanc de Blancs (Rheims) the grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as cuvee, is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles.” Only the juice from the “cuvee” goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement, the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. 2000 was a good but not a great year for champagne but the wine was showing very well and it is their flagship Champagne. The wine is full, rich and toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. I had it with smoked salmon canapés.  

Dom Ruinart 1996 Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Rheims), made from 100% grand cru Chardonnay grapes, 65% from Cotes de Blancs and 35% from the mountain of Rheims.  It spends 9/10 years in the chalk cellars before release.  1996 was a very good year in Champagne.  It was just beginning to show some age with citrus fruit, a touch of toast, a hint of brioche, and a very nice mineral character.  I had it with Pizza Bianca at La Pizza Fresca in NYC. It was another great combination.

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Filed under Champagne, Delamotte NV, Dom Ruinart 1966, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Ferrari, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Method Classico, Nino Franco, Rose, Sparkling wine, Spumante, Tattinger Comtes de Champane

A Wine Weekend

Last weekend began on Thursday night with a bottle of Champagne on a Manhattan terrace and ended with a bottle of 1990 Bordeaux in Sag Harbor on Sunday night. And there were some very nice wines in between.
Champagne Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV (Epernay)
Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, this was the perfect champagne to serve at a cocktail party: light, elegant, soft and crisp with a floral aroma.
Bandol Rosè 2010
Chateau de Pibarnon made from 50% Mourvèdre and 50% Cinsault. The location of the vineyards is on Telegraph Hill where the terraced vineyards form a sort of amphitheater to protect it from the  Mistral.  The soil has large quantities of blue marl, and limestone, stones and rocks as well as fossil material, which make it unlike any other soil in the appellation.  Traditional goblet (bush vines) training for the vines. After 30%/50% destemming, vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is salmon in color with floral and white peach aromas and tastes of white peaches. This is one of the best rose´ wines that I have had in along time.

Brunello di Montalcino “Pian della Vigna”DOCG 1999
Antinori. Made from 100% Sangiovese. The Pian della Vigna estate is located 3.5 miles to the south of the town of Montalcino. The soil is mostly clay and calcareous with many small stones. The grapes are softly pressed and the must has 15 to 21 days of skin contact in 125-hectoliter temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in large oak casks for a period of more ten two years. Complete malolactic fermentation takes place in oak. This is a big complex Brunello with red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, tobacco and a touch of spice. This wine will age for a number of years.

Barolo “Le Gramolere” DOCG 1993 G. Manzone made from 100% Nebbiolo. I visited the winery in November 2010 and met with the owner and wine maker Giovanni Manzone and his son Mauro. The winery is on the top of a hill called Le Gramolere overlooking the town of Monforte D’Alba. Giovanni said that they harvest the second week of October but in the past it was the first or second week of November. This is a very traditional winery.
Maceration on the skins is for 15 days and the wine is aged in 25HL oak casks for 24 months and bottled 36 months after the harvest. This wine was drinking very nicely with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cherry and raspberry and a touch of spice and balsamic in the finish.

Barolo Riserva “Monprivato Ca’D’ Morissio” 1993 Made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giuseppe Mascarello The harvest takes place toward the middle of October but in 1993 it most likely took place in the beginning of November. Estate grown bunches are thinned during the summer. The wine undergoes traditional floating cap fermentation for 20/25 days. The wine is aged in medium size oak barrels for about 38 months. The wine is bottled four years after the vintage. This is a big classic Barolo with good rich red fruit and hints of leather, tobacco and spice. It will age for a number of years.

The label indicates the number of bottles produced according to size. The 750 ml bottle is called an Albeisa* bottle.  The label says Albeisa, Magnum and Double Magnum followed by the number of bottles produced for each.  

*The Albeisa bottle goes back to the beginning of the 18th century. Wine makers in the Alba district proud of their wine wanted a different shaped bottle to distinguish them from other wines in Piedmont. During the Napoleonic invasion the Albeisa was replaced by two typical French bottles — Bordeaux and Burgundy.  Both were more uniform and cheaper to make. In 1973, 16 producers joined together and started using the Albeisa bottle again. The aim of the Albeisa association is to characterize and qualify oenology products of the Langhe and the Roero hills. Only wines with denominations within this area can be bottled in the Albesia bottle.  
Baron de Pichon-Longueville 1988 (Pauillac) made from 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12 Merlot. Aged in 80% new barriques and 20% in barriques that are one year old.
This wine was just starting to come around and can age for a few more years.
Baron de Pichon-Longueville 1990 (Pauillac) The1990 is a big wine that is not ready to drink. Both wines were served with grilled lamb and at this point in time the 1988 was the better wine with the lamb. For a wine to drink now I would buy the 1988 and for a wine to age, the 1990.

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Filed under Albeisa bottle, Bordeaux, Brunello, Champagne, French Red, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Rose, Sangiovese

Drinking More Red, Rose and White in Provence

’’This year, we spent our vacation in Provence.  We rented a house in the tiny town of St. Romaine en Viennois, just a half hour or less from the villages of Gigondas, Beaumes-De Venise, and Chateauneuf du Pape.  The house overlooks a valley of vines and every morning I enjoyed walking among the vines and watching the farmers at work. We spent 10 days there and drank a lot of rosé, some whites, and a few reds.

Then we went to a friend’s home in Eze Village for two days. Here we drank mostly red wine.

 Red Beaumes-De-Venise “Les Trois Amours” 2008 Domaine Beauvalcinte, made from 50% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 10% Carignan, 5% Counoise and 5% Cinsault. The grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place in concrete tanks with natural yeast under controlled temperatures. Maceration lasts for 24 days. This was a very nice wine with red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of raspberry.

 The soil in Gigondas  is composed of limestone, clay and small stones which seemed to be everywhere. The vineyards are on the hills and the plateau and can be seen from the village above.

 Gigondas 2001 Domaine De La Jaufrette.  The wine is made from 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah.  It stays 2 to 3 years in vats and 6 to18 months in foudres according to the vintage and 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. The wine was showing very well with dark fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of spice and leather. There was some wine left in the bottle and I had it with lunch the next day.  It tasted even better.

 The territory of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is north of Avignon on the left bank of the Rhone. It covers the five communes between Orange and Avignon.  Clay and limestone “galettes,” large round stones, help the vines to withstand the dry Mediterranean climate and the mistral (strong winds).

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2009 Domaine du Grand Tinel. The wine is made from 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette and 20% Bourboulance.   90% of the wine is aged  in stainless steel tanks and the rest in new oak barrels. The wine was dry with a mineral character and hints of grapefruit.  It worked very well with tapenade, olives and thumb size sausages that we had as an appetizer.

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2000 Chateau La Nerthe made from 39% Roussanne, 27% Grenache Blanc,19% Clairette and 15% Bourboulence. I do not think the wines undergo malolatic fermentation and 38% of the wine is aged in wood and 62% in tanks. The wood might be barriques. This was the oldest blanc from here that I have had. The wine was showing its age with ripe fruit and a mineral character but it went very well with the smoked salmon we had with lunch.

  Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1989 Chateau Cabrieres made from 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah 20% Mourvedre and 10 Cinsault. The harvest is by hand and usually takes place in the middle of September.  There is a select sorting of the grapes. Fermentation lasts for 4 weeks and includes pumping over, delestage and later malolatic fermentation. The wines are assembled and undergo a light filtration and are aged in Allier oak for 6-12 months. It was drinking like a good older wine with hints of black fruit, prune and spice. It had a nice finish and aftertaste.

 The wines of Cassis

The fishing village and seashore resort of Cassis is situated in the western part of the Cote d’Azur not far from Marseille. The appelation is restricted to the commune of Cassis which covers only some 80 hectares. Here they produce white, rosé and red wine. They are known first for their whites, somewhat for their rosé, and least of all for their reds. At the house of a friend in Eze Village I was able to taste all three.

 Blanc de Blancs Cassis 2009 Domaine du Paternal made from Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne and Doucillon. I was very impressed with this wine. It was balanced, with good acidity, aromas and flavors of grapefruit, herbs, a touch of spice, good mineral character and a very nice finish and aftertaste. It was a delight to drink on the terrace looking at the village of Eze.

 Rosé Cassis 2009 Domaine Du Bagnol made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan. This is a fruity wine with a dry, full body with hints a strawberry and raspberry.

 Red Cassis 2008 Domaine du Paternal made from the same grapes as the Rosé. I had never had a red wine from Cassis before. The red was interesting but not as good as the white.

 Cornas, scorched earth. The production zone has a south/southwest exposure with a semicircle of hill which protect it from the winds and steep terraced hills. The soil contains granite.   It has a hot and dry Mediterranean climate.  Because of these factors, the grapes are the first to be harvested in the Northern Rhone. The area covers 115 hectares all planted with Syrah.

 Cornas Terre Brulee 2004 100% Syrah Domaine Lionnet, they only use organic farming methods and all of the work is done by hand. The only have 2.2 hectares and the vines are between 40-100 years old. All the farming is done by the lunar calendar when possible. The land is worked by a tractor or a horse. No additives are used in making the wine. Only natural yeast is used to have a real expression of the terroir. Grape bunches are placed in small open tanks and the maceration lasts for three weeks. The grapes are “walked on” several times a day during this time. The pulp and stems are shoveled by hand into a 19 century vertical press where a slow pressing takes place. The wine is temporarily placed in tanks so that malolatic fermentation can take place. After the wine is racked and separated from the lees it remains in barrels for two winters.  There is no filtration and no new oak is used. I was very impressed with this wine. It was a big wine with cooked black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cassis, spice, licorice and a touch of violets.

The Wines in the House in Eze

The Wines in the House in St. Romaine en Viennois

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Filed under Cassis, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cornas, French Red, French Wine, Gigondas, Rose, White wine

Drinking Mostly Rose, with a Little White and Red in Provence

For a number of years we have shared a vacation house in Provence with another couple.  We could not get along any better and we really enjoy their company. The arrangement works out great, except for one problem.  Nat really likes to drink rose’ wine, and an occasional white, but prefers not to drink red wine.  I on the other hand drink mostly red wine, some white and very little rose’.

The House in ST. Romaine en Viennoise

 This year we rented a house together in St. Romaine en Viennois in the northern part of Provence.  When we first arrived the weather was chilly but it soon warmed up making the chilled rose’ seem appealing.  I decided to give the roses’ from the area a real chance.  We drank at least one bottle of rose’ a day and on most days we drank two.

Lunch on the Terrace

 I always drink wine with food and have often heard that rose’ is a mealtime wine compromise. The thinking is that if someone is having fish and someone is having meat, then the perfect compromise would be rose’.  But as in most compromises, it often turns out that no one is happy with the result!   You should drink rose because you want to drink rose’.  At lunch one day it was a perfect combination with the liver but not with the herring.  As with most things in life, there are no guarantees. 

 The rose’ wines I like the best are those that are salmon-pink in color, are dry, have subtle fruit and no tannin.  They go best with a variety of different foods.

 Here are some of the wines that we have been drinking, mostly rose’, and a few whites and reds:

 Sablet White 2010 Cotes du Rhone Villages Domaine de Verquiere.  The wine is made from 50% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, 15% Bourboulenc and 15% Roussanne. The soil is clay and chalk with rounded red pebbles. The grapes are hand harvested and direct pressing takes place under controlled temperatures. It is a balanced wine with aromas and flavors of green apple and lemon. There is good acidity and a slight hint of almond in the finish.

 La Deveze Viognier 2010-Vin de Pays de la Principaute d’Orange. 100% Viognier –Domaine de Dionysos. The average age of the vineyards in 15 years and the terroir has a sandy surface with a clay sub-soil which helps to prevent drought stress. The wine had aromas and flavors of grapefruit, apricot and a very slight hint of banana, the wine went very well with the langoustine that we had for lunch at the house.

 Rose’ 2010 Luberon Appellation d’Origine Protegee made from 50% Grenache Noir, and 50% Cinsault, Domaine La CavalePaule Dubrule Family. It has the color of a blush wine tending toward a pale pink. It is dry with nice fruit, a touch of apricot and a hint of grapefruit.

 Gigondas Rose’ 2010 Domaine Longue Toque-Grabile Meffre, made mostly from Grenache and Syrah. This wine is produced in very small quantities. It had a light salmon color with flavors and aromas of red fruit with a hint of raspberry and spice.

 Gigondas Rose’  2010  Clos Du Joncus. The wine is made mostly from Grenache with some Cinsault and Syrah.  It has a salmon-pink color, dry with subtle fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of strawberry.

I have really takes a liking to the rose’ wines from Gigondas.

 Rose’ Grand Cassigues Cotes du Rhone 2010 Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan  Domaine  de la President. The average age of the wine is 20 years and the soil is clay and limestone. The residual sugar is at 2 to 3 grams per liter. There is thinning of the vines and a manual harvest early in the morning. Each variety is vinified separately at low temperatures. The Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan were “bled” and the Grenache has 50% skin contact and 50% directly pressed to extract the maximum and to keep the dark blush almost pink color. There are aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry, red currants and yellow melon. The wine worked throughout the meal and it even went well with the red peppers and lamb.

 Rose’ Ventoux 2010 Cave Beaumont Du Ventoux. The wine is made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault grown at 400 meters on the northern slopes of Mount Ventoux. Because of this northern exposure the wine has good natural acidity and a lower acidity 12.5 % then most roses. It was a little darker in color, very aromatic with fresh fruit aromas and flavors and hits of strawberry. We had the wine at restaurant Le Pont De l’Orme where we dined outside with Mount Ventoux in the background. The price for the wine in the restaurant was 9 Euros-a real bargain.

 Cerise et Reglisse Red 2007 Cotes Du Ventoux Clos Des Patris– made mostly from Syrah, Grenache and Carignan with a little Cinsault, Mourvedre and Counoise. These grapes come from their oldest vineyards.  Each grape variety plays its part in the makeup of the wine: Grenache for roundness and suppleness, Syrah for color and aroma, Cinsault for aroma and balance and Mourvedre for body and complexity. Natural fermentation takes place in little stainless steel tanks. Each grape variety is fermented separately and maceration is between 2 to 3 weeks. The pigeate, the pressing down of the cap, is done by hand. There is a soft pressing in a press that is operated by hand and the wine is filtered through the skins. This is an organic winery. This is a dry wine with aromas and flavors of blackberry, licorice and spice with a pleasing finish and aftertaste.  It went very well with the sheeps’ milk cheese that we had for dinner.

 Sablet Red 2007 Cotes du Rhone Villages Domaine de Verquiere, made from 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault. The soil is chalk and pebbles. The grapes are handpicked and fermented at controlled temperatures. Traditional fermentation takes place on the skins between 10 to 12 days. The wine is aged in large oak casks between 6 to eight months. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe red fruit with more than a hint of raspberry and a little touch of spice. It went very well with the roast chicken we had with dinner at the house.

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Filed under French Red, French Wine, Provence, Rose