Come, bring hither quick a flagon of wine, that I may soak my brain and get an ingenious idea.Aristophanes
The Knights, 424 B.C.
Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music
out of doors.
<> > John Keats, letter to his sister Fanny
August 28, 1819
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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
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Wine Books for Wine Lovers
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Starting a Wine Cellar: B.E.'s Wine Tips
Wines for aging: see B.E. Cellar Notes
B.E. on organic and biodynamic wines
|Focus on...Sauvignon Blanc
Come Spring I just naturally gravitate to white wines because I'm eating more fish and seafood--and especially to Sauvignon Blanc. Its crisp texture and bright citrus or mineral accents have just the cut of flavor I'm looking for. The grape is widely grown around the world. Here are some I've recently tasted and highly recommend:
Wine Buy of the Week:
Dry Creek Vyd 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma $17-20**+ A healthy dollop (12%) of sauvignon musqué lends a spicy floral aroma that to this very attractive Sauvignon. Full-bodied and intense, it's a good choice for grilled shellfish, such as scampi, as well as other seafood dishes. .Drinks deliciously.
Martin Ray 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Vally $18-20** $17.49 at Total Wine. Sonoma is known for racy Sauvignons with more than a hint of grassiness; this one has a little more richness, due no doubt to the cool recesses of RR Valley. where the grapes are grown.
Pedroncelli 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Dry Creek Valley $15**+ Pedroncelli has long produced classic Sauvignons -- this release commemorates Jim Pedroncelli (a living legend in California wine) on his 90th birthday. A big more generously flavored than many Sonoma Sauvignons but a very appealing match for fish and seafood, as well as for sipping on its own, and a great value. Many happy returns, Jim!
Sancerre 2015 Gérard Fiou Loire Valley **+ $21.99 It's rare to find good Sancerre at this price, so you might want to grab this one as we move into Spring and wonderful seafood. This highly aromatic wine, from a vineyard studded with limestone rock, has very enticing scents of mineral and citrus blosooms and an intriguing hint of gunflint on the finish (the winemaker smacked together two rocks from the vineyard that gave off a definite smell of gunpowder!). Excellent value.
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.
BUYs OF THE WEEK--RED
Sancerre Rouge 2014 Gérard Fiou Loire Valley**+ $24.99 on sale this week at Chapel Hill Wine Co. The limestone soil in this part of the Loire produces a lighter style of Pinot Noir, This Pinot is quite charming, lively and very drinkable--and an excellent value. The lighter style is versatile with food--such as grilled salmon, roast chicken or pork, milder cheeses.
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.
Dry Creek 2015 Zinfandecl Heritage Vines Sonoma . $19-21**+ Dry Creek Vineyard, which celebrates its 45th year in 2017, has long been noted for Zinfandels, the Heritage Vines series is consistently well-balanced--drinking well in its youth with the capacity to age, 5 to 7 years at a minimum, and likely longer. 20% petite sirah makes the 2015 dark and rich, but this Zin is lapped in lovely boysenberry and black raspberry fruit, smooth and tasty.-- highly versatile with food--especially roast chicken or pork, grilled sausages, meat pizzas and pastas.
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!
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..
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!!!