Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2012

To balance my previous post about Thanksgiving Pinot Noir, I want to review this holiday’s other most commonly enjoyed wine. Riesling, whether fully trocken (dry) or halbtrocken (off-dry, having between 1% and 2% residual sugar), is the perfect foil to turkey and its dinner companions. It has the added advantage of being the shimmering queen of white wine, but that is, of course, just my opinion. Let’s see what I can do to sway you to my side.

Weingut Robert Weil is one of the Rheingau’s younger wine estates, located in Kiedrich, a village that was first recorded in 950 AD. It is, however, also one of the finest, producing a range of wines along the whole spectrum of sweetness as categorized by German winemakers. Michael Broadbent considered Robert Weil “the most consistently brilliant winemaker in the Rheingau.” Thanks to the fabulous terroir of the vineyards in the Rheingau, with their rich mineral content and exceptional drainage, the wines exhibit remarkably distinct elegance, complexity, and nuance. Generally fruit-driven, but not overly forward, Weingut Robert Weil Rieslings exhibit a dancing whirl of acidity around their lush fruit cores, showing extract and poise far beyond what most white wines are capable of reaching. Weil wines are truly wonderful examples of Riesling’s potential.

This example, the entry-level 2011 Weingut Robert Weil Rheingau Trocken Riesling, shows a pale gold in the glass. Once poured, I find typical vibrant fruity aromas of lemon zest, stony peach, with a hint of sandalwood and wet stone. More bright citrus fruit in the mouth, with a tingling acidity that makes this wine seem electric, the texture rounded out by chalky mineral elements. The quenching finish leaves you ready for more, and pairs beautifully with Thanksgiving trimmings – although it could just as easily be enjoyed on its own. A pure steal at $17.

Advertisements

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, this one featuring many changes. New locations, new faces, and of course (my favorite), new wines at the table. For this post-turkey post, I thought it would be fun to do a brief write-up of the Pinot Noir wines we chose for our family dinner. Some serious contenders here, in terms of both raw deliciousness and good value. These included:

  • Galante Vineyards Carmel Valley Pinot Noir, 2004
  • Domaine Prieur-Brunet “Cuvee Saint-Jean de Naross, 2009
  • Luminous Hills Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir, 2010

So! Let’s cover each in turn, and see what we can say about why any of these three Pinots should have graced your table this Thanksgiving…

Galante Vineyards Carmel Valley Pinot Noir, 2004

Galante Vineyards is a small family-owned estate producing varietal wines in the upper Carmel Valley, in California. Their winemaking emphasizes the expression of terroir; they prefer to let the vine speak through the grapes, and the land through the vine. While they specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon, other varietals are produced in minute quantities, such as Zinfandel, Merlot and Pinot Noir. This Thanksgiving, I happened to have a bottle of the 2004 Estate Pinot Noir, bought directly in their tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Glorious ruby color in the glass. After the first pour, soft notes of dark cherry and earth drift heavenwards. More fresh-tilled loam and spice form the backdrop, and red fruit gushes around a silky mouthfeel. A little hot, however, at 14.6% alcohol. Delicious overall at $24.

 

Domaine Prieur-Brunet “Cuvee Saint-Jean de Naross, 2009

Nothing too much to say here except: beautifully typical entry-range Burgundy. And entry-range Burgundy is not normally this affordable, not by any means. This is a Pinot Noir with grace, finesse and just enough tannic texture to mesh with the easygoing red berry fruit and snappy acidity. Light-bodied, flowery and a bit funky, this is a steal at $20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luminous Hills Yamhill-Carlton District Pinot Noir, 2010

For a seriously delicate wine in this line-up, however, we must turn to the 2009 Luminous Hills Pinot Noir, from their Yamhill-Carlton estate in Oregon. A long growing season with a cool stretch led to even ripening, but low yields. Blended from grapes based on four distinct clones of Pinot Noir, this is a lovely wine, rosy, pale and shimmering with elegant fruit, minerality, and harmony in all its parts. I’d almost drink this on its own, before food arrives to puncture the experience. $35. Lovely.

After  the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, with many friends without power or heat for days on end, I want to take this opportunity to write about one of my comfort wines. This is a wine meant for grilled meats, eliciting memories of warm weather, summer barbecues with friends and family. However, it is also perfect for rainy days, snowy days… any situation where you need a hearty food wine. Also good for celebrating elections, provided you’re down with the outcome.

Priorat. A lush, juicy package done up in red. Very popular now, unabashedly liberal in its flavor profile, with generous dark fruit and supremely supple tannins. What better way to hunker down and brace for the coming winter?

So for this admittedly brief post, I give you the 2009 Scala Dei “Negre” Priorat. Scala Dei means “Ladder of God.” I will say, you’d probably need to exceed this price point for their wines to impress at that level, but this is one tasty red. In the glass, it displays a lovely violet color, and my first impression was of aromas of peppery spice and juicy black cherry and strawberry fruit. Round and luscious in the mouth, with great tannins, very soft, fruit-forward but moderated by earth and mineral notes. Medium finish. Great for pot roast, or lamb burgers. $14.