Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Speed tasting...

Speed Tasting is an event that needs to be added to the Olympics! It takes quite the athlete to put their palate through the paces required to taste through several flights of wine in a limited amount of time.

I'm in training right now for my CWE Certified Wine Educator exam with the Society of Wine Educators and am putting myself through the paces, pushing myself to the limit, and sampling as many wines as possible. I know, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it!

Here are some recent "events" that I participated in @ Cru :

Sexy Red Flight   and    Food Friendly White Flight
Accompanied by a delicious crab cake!
 Shooting Star Merlot 2008 - Lake County:
This was a "Cab-lovers" Merlot (IMHO); it felt a bit bigger, drier, and a bit dusty. I researched the wine afterward and discovered the fruit was sourced from a mountain vineyard, and as I discovered in my Cabernet Sauvignon class last week, mountain fruit produces wines with more structure (read that as firm tannins - dry on the back-end). Dark fruit, with a hint of oak.   

Collazzi - i Bastioni - Chianti Classico 2005 DOCG, Tuscany:
Typical Old World style Chianti Classico with its earthy, sour cherries, good acidity and dry, dusty finish. I went back to the red flight, after the whites, and they had all opened up a bit more. I was able to detect some floral notes that I missed on the first go-round.

Duckhorn - Decoy Blend 2008 - Napa Valley:
My favorite of the reds, this was a Bordeaux-style blend of: 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and    4% Petit Verdot. Ripe, lush fruit, a judicious amount of new American oak, with a long, juicy finish. The mountain-sourced Cab fruit is toned down by the addition of a heavy dose of Merlot - producing some soft tannins. 

Colterenzio Pinot Grigio 2009 - Alto Adige: 
Fresh, crisp and clean; lots of pear aroma and flavor; good acidity as you would expect from Italian Pinot Grigio.
Peitan Albarino 2008 - Rias Biaxas:
I must say that I am loving Albarinos! As typical, this was very aromatic, with lots of peach and citrus flavors. You could taste the minerality, but it wasn't overwhelming, just like a breath of sea air.
Adelsheim Pinot Gris 2009 - Willamette Valley:
When you see Pinot Gris on the label, there are certain expectations for the wine to differentiate it from a Pinot Grigio: Bigger, fuller, softer, rounder, etc.  This wine was not quite as "er" as all that.  It had ripe fruit aromas, heavy on the pear and was a bit fuller-bodied than an Italian Pinot Grigio, but not as full as most Willamette Valley Pinot Gris'.

California Sparkling Flight
Accompanied by Frito Misto (fried calamari, shrimp, and red peppers)

Piper Sonoma Brut NV - Sonoma County:
This bubbly is a 60% Chardonnay,15% Pinot Noir, and 25% Pinot Meunier - which is why I liked it better than the Schramsberg (all Chardonnay), yet not as much as the Taittinger. Citrus aromas, good acidity and bubbles, and a tiny hint of ginger-ale.

Domaine Carneros - Taittinger 2006 - Carneros:
This was my favorite bubbly of the night.  I was unable to find the breakdown of the grapes, but I felt it was heavier on the red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) than the Chardonnay. There was a bit more berry to this wine and less citrus and apple or pear. I loved its acidity and slight mineral quality. Dee-lish!
Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 2007 - Calistoga:
My least favorite of the three sparkling wines - funny, because it's the most expensive at $36 a bottle. This wine is 100% Chardonnay and heavy on the malolactic fermentation. It felt heavy and flabby to me, with not as much zesty acidity as I like to have in my bubbly. You could taste the vanilla from the oak aging.  After tasting the Domaine Carneros, this was sadly lacking.

Find them ~ Buy them ~ Try them ~ Love them!
Salud! KathyD

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rosé colored glasses ~ Part 2

According to the Champagne Bible, Rosé or Pink Champagne was first made in 1775 by Veuve Clicquot. The rosé style began as a wedding wine, if you believe the popular myths and legends, created to match the pink often worn by bridesmaids at Royal weddings.

Don't you just love this gown?
Less than five percent of Champagne produced is rosé, perhaps that's because there isn't as much demand for the pink bubbly, or it could be that it's a difficult and delicate technique, and more costly to undertake. 

The classic blend for a golden Champagne is Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. (Sparkling wine made in the United States is - generally - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with very little Pinot Meunier ever seeing the inside of America's wineries.) The juice is gently pressed from the grapes, then a regular fermentation process is performed. After fermentation, the wine is blended - sometimes with up to 80 different cuvées (base wines), then bottled with what the French refer to as liqueur de tirages, a bit of sugar and yeast. The wine is capped with a closure similar to a beer or soda cap then laid to rest, and age, in cool, dark caves. Slowly the wine is upturned, or riddled, to move the lees (yeast and sediment) towards the neck of the bottle. When the time is right, the bottle is immersed in a briny solution that causes quick freezing of the sediment, the caps are dislodged and the frozen plug shoots from the bottle. Before the bottle is corked, it's topped off with dosage, a small amount of the original base wine and a bit of sugar.

A recently disgorged ice-plug.
There are a few additional processes involved when making a rosé Champagne, making it a bit more expensive than its golden cousins. There are two ways of making a rosé. The first, is to blend red wine into the base cuvée before the secondary fermentation, the second method involves Saignée, a short period of contact between the red grape skins and the must (juice). Either method leaves much room for error and an expert hand is needed to prevent the wine from turning orange or brown.

The color of a rosé runs from a light salmon tint, to a deeper, richer, berry-licious looking pink.

At this time of year the sales of rosé skyrocket due to the it's association with romance and Valentine's Day celebrations.

Yet, just as bubbly of any kind shouldn't be relegated just to celebratory occasions, rosé shouldn't be tethered just to Valentine's Day either. 
There is, perhaps, not another wine that is more aptly suited to food than a delicious rosé sparkling wine or Champagne. The bright fruit, the level of acidity, and the amount of tannins from the red grape skins, all combine to create the perfect storm of food and wine pairings. After all, a rosé is both red, and white, enabling it to pair with everything from berry compote and strawberry cheesecake, to smoked ham, salmon and lobster.

Here are a few of my all-time favorite rosé sparklers:


Nicky F (Nicolas Feuillatte)

Piper Sauvage`

Find them ~ Buy them ~ Try them ~ Love them!
Salud! KathyD

Here's to looking at the world through rosé colored glasses!

I'm looking at the world through rosé colored glasses...

I'm looking at the world through rosé colored glasses and I'm loving it!

It's about time more people started to think pink when it comes to their wine, and their bubbly... People who know Champagne know that the BEST of the best is a rosé.

Think that a bottle of Dom Perignon Brut will set you back a few days pay? At about $150 for the 2002 Andy Warhol series, that's a hefty chunk of change. But, hey - check out the cost of their rosé - about $400 for their millennial vintage. More than TWICE as much; so, what's the deal with rosé and why is it more expensive? 

Stay tuned for more in Rosé ~ Part 2!

Andy Warhol "Red Label" (I just LOVE these bottles!)
Andy Warhol and Dom... What more could you ask for?

Classic Dom P Rosé  Vintage 2000  $400 (It's on my WINE bucket list!)

Dom / Rosé Trivia:
The Shah of Iran ordered several bottles of Dom Pérignon Rosé for his wedding in 1959. Dom Pérignon did not make rosé champagne at that time, but created one just for him... A bottle of that champagne, from that order, was auctioned off for $33,356 in 2008.

Salud! KathyD

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