Bacchic Reflections

 Come, bring hither quick a flagon of wine, that I may soak my brain and get an ingenious idea.

                                                                               The Knights,  424 B.C.

     " thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart..."   
                                                                      King Solomon, Ecclesiastes

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Reds worth cellaring...Cabs, Pinots, Other
                            B.E.'s Cellar Notes

Special Aged Wines:   B.E.'s Discoveries

Virginia/North Carolina:   B.E.'s Discoveries

Interesting Links:   see  Other Interests

Wine Books for Wine Lovers
            see B.E.'s Wine Tips

Articles by B.E.   see  B.E. in print
      Starting a Wine Cellar:   B.E.'s  Wine Tips
      Wines for aging:  see B.E. Cellar Notes
B.E. on organic and biodynamic wines

                  see  article

WATCH:  From the Vineyard, a PBS series on North Carolina wines and wineries.  This colorful and very informative program visits differnt North Carolina wineries on each episode, with on-site interviews with winemakers and vintners. It's a good introduction to the state's young wine industry, its challenges and triumphs. Hosted by the personable Lisa Prince, with tasting comments by Angus Barn sommelier, Henk Schuittemaker.
Check local listings for when it airs (12 pm Saturdays in the Trinagle.

Good Bets for Winter's Feasts  
Go deep in your cellar if you have one--last night I pulled out a 20-year old Napa Valley Cabernet for lamb chops--and it didn't disappoint. Swanson 1996 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon  boasts lovely black fruit flavors, spicy aromatics, and it's incredibly smooth, round and long in finish. I was extremely pleased.
But, if you don't have aged wines to draw on, these may please you::
Chinon 2015 (or 2014) Olga Raffault 'Les Bernabes'   Loire Valley     $16-18**+  Juicy, round, smooth and quite capitivating. A new generation is in charge at Olga Raffault and this young Chinon, made from cabernet franc, bodes well; it has lovely red currant  flavors, nicely balanced to enjoy now--especially with pork, veal, sausage, roast or grilled chicken. Widely available at good wine shops, which can order if it's not in stock.

Cloudline Pinot Noir   Oregon  $20.99**+
at The Wine Merchant in Cary. A plummy Pinot--the kind that suits roast turkey or roast loin of pork (especially with a berry-rich glaze).
Olema 2014 Pinot Noir   Sonoma     $20**+   A concsistent pleasure in Pinot Noir--maybe because 50% comes from Russian River Valley, lending a dark berry juiciness that's very appealing. An excellent value in Pinot Noir!
Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2014   Sonoma   $18-21**+   More fruit intensity here--black cherry, smoky blackberry, licorice make this Cab a handsome choice for roast beef or lamb. Had this more recently--very much a hit with beef stew!
Dry Creek Vyds 'Old Vine' Zinfandel 2014   Dry Creek Valley   $30-32***  Old vines indeed--some over 100 years old--yield lip-smacking flavors of black raspberry and blackberry. It's one of my favorite Zins, and doesn't hang around long in the marketplace so grab it if you're a Zin fan (the 2013 is equally good! scroll down to Reds) and pair it with roast or grilled meats, savory cheeses, hearty stews and the like.
Davis Bynum  2014 Jane's Vyd Pinot Noir   Russian River Valley   $28-32**+  Rich dark cherry flavors, fine balane and length. The lush texture especially charming--excellent choice for roast pork loin and gamebirds..
Angeline Pinot Noir Reserve 2014   Mendocino   $18**+   Aromatic and very tasty--a very good value in Pinot Noir, perfect for drinking now.  Good berry and cherry aromas and flavors. Excellent for roast turkey.
Mabileau Bourgueil 2014   Loire Valley   $15**+   Made from organicallhy grown grapes in the Touraine region of the Loire, this fruit-forward, well-balanced Cab Franc is a terrific value. Bourgueil (pronounced "boor-gay-ee) generally produces wines less tannic than nearby Chinon (also cabernet franc) and more accessible for drinking on release. 
Joseph Drouhin 2015  Beaujolais-Villages  France  $17.99 **  Gamay noir also makes a juicy red--lightly cool this 2015 Beaujolais-Villages and it will likely please most of the quaffers at your dinner table.

Bubbles.........I always have one on ice, just in case.

If you need proof of global warming, keep an eye on the emergence of  fine sparkling wine from--of all places--the south of England! I've tasted a couple of these wines recently, Gusbourne Brut, grown on an estate in Kent, and Bride Valley Blanc de Blancs from Dorset. They are excellent--and very Champagne-like It used to be too chilly here for vinifera grapes to ripen well, but cool climate varieties like chardonnay and pinot noir are now thriving in  Kent, Sussex, and Dorset. Plus, they share the chalky limestone soil that lends Champagne its distinctive character. These areas were once part  of vast seabeds. Pinot meunier also appears to do well and is a component of several of the British sparklers.  If you spot these wines,  try them!
Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Brut, North Coast  $25-30***  An elegant sparkler, possibly America's best, certainly the closest to French Champagne. Excellent balance, great depth and long finish. A superb aperitif.
Gloria Ferrer 'Royal Cuvée' Brut 2007   Carneros, Sonoma  $22-26.**+  Consistently good, and consistently a medal winner in national wine competitions--bright and fresh, good balance and length;  very good with smoked salmon and other saovry hors d'oeuvres. Note: it made for spectacular Champagne Cocktails on New Year's Eve (2016).
Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs NV, California, $18-22**+  Tiny bubbles, bright, clean fruit, dry and quite delicious. Keep this sparkler on hand  as a great aperitif, year-round.  I've tasted this wine several times with great pleasure. An excellent value, too.
Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut Rosé  $24-30***  Chandon's top cuvée--a dry pink, very elegant with a delicate scent of strawberry; tiny stream of bubbles, long in finish. A delicious match with smoked salmon!!!

Whites and Reds...
Chateau Graville-Lacoste 2015 Graves Blanc   Graves, Bordeaux    $17 -20***
  Do you like sauvignon blanc? Then you'll love this wine (a Kermit Lynch import) from the Graves region of Bordeaux--it's actually 75% sémillon, a noble partner for sauvignon-- and its sleek structure  teems with fresh, tangy fruit and accents of lime and greengage plums; a broader flavor profile than many Sauvignons and a very appetizing finish, i.e., "one sip invites another.". Outstanding for shellfish! And a great value....often on restaurant wine lists (such as Revolution), so look for it.

Dry Creek Vyd 2013 Old Vine Zinfandecl  Sonoma . $24-30**+    Spicy and rich-textured, with black raspberry flavors, smooth and tasty.-- Fine with roast turkey or pork.

Angeline Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Reserve  Paso Robles  $15-19**+   A very drinkable Cabernet, with punchy plum-berry flavors, enough structure to evolve in bottle, but drinking smoothly now and a good choice for roast or grilled meats, as well as savory cheeses.
Note:  I also liked Angeline's 2015 Sauvignon Blanc ($14) from Sonoma for its crisp, bright, citrussy fruit and fine balance.

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                                                                                                                                             ©Barbara Ensrud