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Daily Glass: Memorable Wines

March 1, 2015 15 comments

IMG_1496 Wine = Memories. Well, okay, we need to correct that statement. Great Wines = Memories, now that is better. Of course we remember the wines we drink, and this is how the opinions are formed and this is how the wine list in the restaurant doesn’t look that intimidating anymore. But this should be characterized more as a general knowledge, not specifically as “memories”. Great wines, on the other hand (I’m not going to define the term “great wine” – this is highly personal, you define it for yourself), become memory anchors. We remember when, why and how, we remember who we shared it with, and we can retrieve those memories on the moment’s notice. That is what “great wine” can do to you.

Case in point – a great evening with friends, which had all three elements at its perfection – the wine, the food and the company. An evening, when the time flies so fast, you don’t understand how late it is already. And the wines – stunning, each one in its own right. We started with Gosset Grand Réserve Brut Champagne – a non-vintage Champagne from one of the old and classic producers. I have to honestly admit that I was never impressed with other Gosset wines in the past, but this Grand Réserve, poured from the magnum, was outstanding – round, creamy, yeasty just enough, with a touch of apple and fresh bread on the palate – an excellent start of the evening.

Then the awe inspiring, almost 50 years old 1967 Gaja Barbaresco was gently uncorked. It was not simple, as cork did crumble – but this is nothing which strainer and decanter can’t fix. The first whiff – nothing smells off, which is a great sign of relief. While we put the wine aside to let it breathe a bit, we reached out for another white – 2007 François Cazin Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny AOC.

This is a rare French white wine made from 100% Romorantin grape. I remember a few years back trying this wine at a 10 years of age – and I remember been simply blown away by the exuberant beauty of this seemingly unassuming wine (new vintages retail  at around $15 – the QPR is through the roof on this). The nose of that 2007 was amazing, with fresh white fruit, guava, mango, honeysuckle, lemon and lemon zest. On the palate, behind the first wave of Riesling-like appearance with touch of sweetness and tropical fruit notes, there were layers and layers of acidity and minerality. After about 10 minutes of breathing time, the wine was almost bone dry, very crisp and refreshing. I still have 3 bottles of the 2007, and now the trick will be to keep my hands away from them, as they still benefit from time.

Time to get back to that 1967 Barbaresco. We were somewhat waiting for the main course to start drinking it, and I was concerned that as it happens with many older wines, this wine might also succumb to the neverland if not consumed within that short window of time. Silly me. The wine kept going and opening for the next 2 hours. It had all those sweet plums, sapidity of the onion peel, minerality, all weaved around a well defined structure with perfect acidity and perfect balance. The “wows’ kept flowing until there was nothing left in the decanter  – this was definitely a treat. And a perfect memory anchor, an experience which stays forever.

Our next wine was also very interesting and delicious in its own right, by fate or the accident made from the exact same grape as the Barbaresco, the Nebbiolo –2004 Ar.Pe.Pe Rocce Rosse Riserva, Valtellina Superiore Sassella DOCG, Italy. Valtellina red wines are typically made in the way similar to Amarone – with the grapes drying out after the harvest for about 120 days, and only then pressed and vinified. The Sassella Rocce Rosse from Ar.Pe.Pe stands apart, with Nebbiola grapes (locally known as Chiavennasca) left on the vine to raisin, and then pressed. Fresh, succulent plums and cherries on the nose and palate, together with effervescent lightness and firm structure (this might not make sense right away, but this is the way I perceive it), which I always find in Ar Pe Pe wines. Again, a delicious red.

Our last wine was 2003 Sella & Mosca Anghelu Ruju Rosso Passito Riserva Alghero DOC, Sardinia, Italy – very unique and interesting fortified wine, made out of partially sun-dried Grenache, locally known as Cannonau. This wine was mostly resembling the Port, with a hint of dried fruit on the nose, supported by perfectly balanced, soft body of plums and sweet oak, with perfect amount of sugar to make it a light dessert wine, but not an overbearing sweet monster.

Here we are – a perfect set of very memorable wines, compliments of dear friend Stefano (Clicks & Corks/Flora’s Table), and an evening with friends which will stay in memory, anchored by that 1967 Barbaresco. Considering that I’m finishing this post right on the Open That Bottle Night, I hope you increased your memory bank with some spectacular experiences, both of wines and the company – and I will be glad to hear about them. To the great life experiences! Cheers!

 

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Wine and Pregnancy, Impossible Food and Wine Pairings?, Don’t Diss The Chardonnay

June 26, 2013 8 comments

P1120673 Cavallotto BaroloMeritage time!

Let’s start from the answer to the Wine Quiz #62, Grape trivia – Nebbiolo. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about Italian grape called Nebbiolo. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name “Nebbiolo”

A1: The name “Nebbiolo” comes from the Italian word nebbia, which means “fog”, by association with foggy hills of Piedmont.

Q2: In one of the regions outside Piedmont, the wines are produced from Nebbiolo grapes in the style of Amarone – with grapes drying on the straw mats before they are pressed. Can you name that region?

A2: Valtellina in Lombardy. I was lucky to attend a special seminar on Sfursat di Valtellina Nino Negri wines where I learned for the first time about this type of production (here is the link to my post). There was also a mention of Nebbiolo-based Recioto wines from Veneto – as this was really an experimental effort by one of the winemakers, I can’t count that as a right answer.

Q3: True or False: Blending is not allowed for any of the wines produced from Nebbiolo grape in Piedmont region.

A3: False. While blending is prohibited for Barolo and Barbaresco wines, it is allowed in Ghemme and Gattinara (however, many winemakers prefer to make wines with 100% Nebbiolo grapes).

Q4: White grape used to be such a traditional blending partner for Nebbiolo that it was sometimes called White Barolo. Do you know the name of this grape?

A4: Arneis. Arneis was a popular blending partner for the Barolo wines in the past, and that gave it a name of White Barolo.

Q5: In the blind tasting setting, the wines made out of Nebbiolo can be very distinguishable even before you take a first sip. Do you know what is this distinct feature of Nebbiolo wines?

A5: Orange hue. It is very indicative feature of Nebbiolo wines, especially as they gain any amount of age. You can also distinguish young Barolo by tremendous amount of tannins ( typically), but that is only a feature of particular style of wine and not the grape, and it is whole another story.

There were lots of responses this time! We have two winners (drum roll, please): VinoInLove and Mika ( no web site) get unlimited bragging rights. Also Stefano, Jeff TheDrunkenCyclist and Oliver TheWineGetter all get honorable mention with 4 correct answers out of 5. Thank you to all participants! We have one more red grape to cover for now, and then we are switching to whites. Oh yes, you can start guessing now, what will be this last red grape – you will find out if you are right or not on Saturday.

And now, to the interesting stuff around vine and web!

First, I want to bring to your attention an interesting article about wine and pregnancy from Vinography blog. I don’t know if there are right and wrong here, my personal theory that everything is good in moderation – and any good thing taken out of proportion can and will become your enemy. Still, it is an interesting read, and don’t miss the comments section.

Now, two of the bloggers I follow posted “impossible food and wine pairing” questions. Dr. Vino asked about pairing of wine with anchovies, and the TheArmchairSommelier had a very interesting question about pairing of the summer salad (which contains among other ingredients watermelon, blueberries, honey and feta), which sounds delicious by itself, but presents a substantial challenge of finding the right wine. Visit both blogs and offer your advice, if you will – of course if you want to comment here, I will be very happy to have the discussion in this blog.

Last but not least – a murder story and the warning to those who diss the Chardonnay, as presented by W. Blake Gray – read it here, it is short…

This is all I have for you – the glass is empty. But refill is coming, as usual – and don’t forget that today is Wine and Whiskey Wednesday (like you need a reason to drink, ha). Cheers!

 

Weekly Wine Quiz #62: Wine Trivia – Nebbiolo

June 22, 2013 23 comments
Nebbiolo grapes, picture from Wikipedia

Nebbiolo grapes, picture from Wikipedia

Welcome to the weekend! Your new wine quiz has arrived.

Today our subject is the Italian grape called Nebbiolo – a power grape of Piedmont, solely responsible for some of the world’s best wines, Barolo and Barbareso.

As I’m working on this series of quizzes, I’m of course learning a lot myself. It was very interesting for me to realize, that unlike any other major red grape we talked about so far, Nebbiolo is pretty much confined to the 6 or so areas in Italy, where it makes wonderful wines – its world-wide spread is non existent, not even in the form of clones, like Zinfandel. And this is all despite the fact that Nebbiolo is quite an old grape, with first mentions going all the way back to the 13th century.

Nebbiolo is a very tricky grape to work with. It has the longest ripening cycle out of many grapes – buds early, ripens very late, prone both to mutation (there are about 40 known clones) and grape diseases. But – the resulting wines, like Barolo and Barbaresco, clearly worth the trouble, with wonderful aromatics, power and concentration. Also the ageing potential of the Nebbiolo wines is almost unlimited.

Now, to the quiz!

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name “Nebbiolo”

Q2: In one of the regions outside Piedmont, the wines are produced from Nebbiolo grapes in the style of Amarone – with grapes drying on the straw mats before they are pressed. Can you name that region?

Q3: True or False: Blending is not allowed for any of the wines produced from Nebbiolo grape in Piedmont region.

Q4: White grape used to be such a traditional blending partner for Nebbiolo that it was sometimes called White Barolo. Do you know the name of this grape?

Q5: In the blind tasting setting, the wines made out of Nebbiolo can be very distinguishable even before you take a first sip. Do you know what is this distinct feature of Nebbiolo wines?

Good luck, enjoy your weekend and cheers!

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