Matt Cole has been a fixture at City Wine Merchant for almost three years, and this Saturday marked his last day working with us. Matt's first day was a Saturday in 2011, and it was a memorable Saturday afternoon because, as Matt reminded me, we opened a bottle of 1942 Lopez Heredia Tondonia Reserva Rioja. Hopefully Matt got over the disappointment of realizing that we didn't do that every Saturday. We've had some pretty good Saturdays though. Matt has been "Mr. Everything" at City Wine Merchant (wine guy, carpenter, chef) and he proved to be a pretty decent bowler. We'll miss having him around every day.
Along with a good friend, Matt and I shared a casual lunch of Italian coppa, along with Tomme Chebris, Brillat-Savarin and crusty baguette from Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. We first popped open a bottle of La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001. While the wine didn't have much life left in it, it was outstanding. The essence of great Chianti Classico was definitely present. I have always loved Chianti Classico because it is one of those wines that nearly always transports me to its place of origin. This comes from a 14-acre vineyard on the Nozzole estate. The vineyard has been producing Chianti since the 13th century and it is a reliable wine from vintage to vintage. This isn't as traditionally styled as some of my other favorite producers from the region (Ama, Castell'in Villa), but it is nonetheless a great wine. Matt liked it, so that's good. It was especially tasty with the Tomme Chebris (50% goat’s milk and 50% ewe’s milk).
What can I say about Cos? It is one of the world's greatest wine estates for good reason. Even in this "off" vintage, and even after so many critics leave a wine like this for dead, the 1967 Cos d'Estournel Saint Estephe continues to deliver some joy. It still shows a lot red fruit, and just enough acidity to hold it all together. While it is somewhat dis-jointed, it is an interesting snapshot . With history dating to the 1700s, Cos continues to hold its own with the great first growths of Bordeaux (Cos literally "looks down" on it's neighbor Lafite). The '67 is a fun wine, but if you still have this one in your cellar, don't wait any longer to open it!
|1967||Chateau Cos d'Estournel Saint-Estephe||80-84 Good||Drink Now|
|2001||Tenuta di Nozzole La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001||90-94 Outstanding||Drink Now|
Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant only as a guide to help readers discover new wines. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. Eric generally only scores wines in ranges, with the following as a guide:
100 Flawless: a wine without any flaws that can be articulated
95-99 Classic: a great wine that displays the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
90-94 Outstanding: an outstanding wine displaying most of the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: drinkable and shows some positive characteristics
<80 Not recommended
Last night I opened a bottle of Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 from Les Baux-de-Provence, a small village within Provence, in the south of France. As I tasted this delicious wine, I wondered about its home and decided to do a little research. First, I learned the village got its name from the aluminium ore Bauxite, which was first discovered there in 1821 by geologist Pierre Berthier.
But before I get too far into the region, let me tell you about this wine...
Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 offers sweet plum on the nose, with a hint of juniper and is a beautiful shade of raspberry red. Blackberry jumps out on the first sip, and lavender (typical of Provence wines) is introduced as the wine opens up. It is really well balanced, with a fresh acidity, a medium bodied structure, and a long finish.
This wine is a blend of 48% Grenache, 21% Cinsault, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Mourvèdre, and you can really taste each of the varietal components. The winemakers, Luc and Lucienne Cartier, have been farming in this picturesque countryside for years, and in addition to grapes, they produce olives, fruits and vegetables. It would pair wonderfully with a French goat cheese, such as Valencay, smoky cured meats and a variety of dishes, including the peppered grilled chicken that I prepared for dinner. The pepper flavor brought out a more herbaceous quality in the wine, that made this pairing very desirable. Eric (our Wine Director) has always said that this is one of his all-time favorite under-$20 wines. I understand why. This is the kind of everyday table wine that keeps you reaching for the next sip. Even better, Mas de Gourgonnier 2009 is only $13.59 with our mix-and-match discount!
About the Region
Located in the heart of Provence, in southeast of France, Les Baux-de-Provence gained AOC status in 1995 and is located within the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOC. This area has become a popular tourist destination, near the well-known cities of Arles, Avignon and Nimes. The village is home to many gourmet restaurants and charming hotels.
The climate is very hot, but thankfully the vineyards are centered on the village hilltop, providing perfect exposure to the cooling and drying mistral winds. Les Baux-de-Provence is the first French AOC to require all vineyards to farm biodynamically, which has become part of the terrior’s identity. Red wine accounts for 80% of the regions wine production and the most popular grapes include: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon often used, but can only account for 20% of a blend.
The Baux Valley is also olive-growing land and is considered the most beautiful in all of Provence. Three olive products are entitled to AOC designation – olive oil, cracked oils and black olives.
Wine Producers of Les Baux de Provence
Domaine Olivier d’Auge
Mas de la Dame
Mas Sainte Berthe
Domaine du Pas de l’Aigle
Domaine de Lauzières
Mas de Gourgonnier
Domaine de la Vallongue
Domaine de Terres Blanches
Spending a romantic afternoon dining outdoors is one of my favorite summer activities, and having the right wine, food and cheese is always on top of my priority list. I think living in New York City has forced me to perfect my picnic-ablity - meaning packing just the right amount of outdoor accessories,
proper disposable dining supplies and a smart amount of food and drink, without carrying a kitchen-sized beach bag into the park.
When I first tasted Château Roquefort Côtes De Provence Rosé Corail 2010, I mentally began rearranging my perfectly-packed-picnic bag to fit 2 bottles, instead of one. This crisp, refreshing Rosé is aromatic, fruit-forward and lively, but also displays an elegant softness with sweet hints strawberry and raspberry. As I swished the wine over my palate, I imagined rays of sunshine glistening off the crystal clear water, as I sipped this perfectly pink wine, aboard a sailboat in Provence…ok, back to reality…
Over the weekend, I opened up a bottle of Corail to enjoy in the warm weather, after stopping by Murray's Cheese for Crottin de Chavignol, a classic French chevre. At only $5.99 a nugget, I expected a nice, enjoyable pairing, but was given much more! This little French round is only a bit larger than a marshmallow; with a similar pillow-like rind and a lushious, gooey inside. Big flavors of salt and lemon tang are packed in this small, goat’s milk cheese, with a rustic, yet mild flavored white rind. A sweet and salty characteristic is drawn out when the two are paired together – the salt from the cheese becomes a perfect partner for the sweet berry flavors of the Corail (which is an equally perfect picnic value at $14.44 with our 6 bottle mix and match discount!) – what a sensational pairing!
As the unofficial kick-off to Summer, this Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to uncork a crisp, refreshing bottle of Saracina Sauvignon Blanc, to pair with Chabichou du Poitou, a dense, chalky, French goat cheese that melts in your mouth.
Saracina Sauvigon Blanc 2009 is extremely elegant, offering aromas of ripe pear, sweet melon and white peach. It displays a traditional Sauvignon Blanc acidity, paired with a flinty minerality and vibrant depth. This wine offers an unexpected medium-bodied melon flavor that literally tastes like a relaxing day in the sun. The crisp freshness cuts directly through the weight of Chabichou, which is best enjoyed from May through October, when the goats produce the best milk.
This cylinder shaped cheese is produced in the very limited geographic area of Poitou, halfway between Paris and Bordeaux. Chabichou is decedent and tangy and peppered with small mold rounds that are formed with careful aging. Amazing alone, but undeniably delightful paired with Saracina Sauvignon Blanc.
Saracina is a 600 acre bio-diverse property in Hopland, CA. Consisting of three ranches, the main ranch is home to Saracina Vineyards, a small-production, state-of-the-art, California Certified Organic (CCOF) winery and the first wine caves in Mendocino County, carved out of solid rock over a two-year period. Saracina offers varietal-specific wines, with limited production Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.
I enjoyed an award-worthy duo of Vermont Butter and Cheese Company's Bonne Bouche and 2006 Argyle Brut Willamette while watching Anne Hathaway and James Franco host the Oscar Awards on Sunday. I was happy to see Christian Bale accept the Supporting Actor award and agree The King's Speech deserved Best Picture, but I was even more pleased to discover this great pairing!
Argyle Winery, in Dundee, Oregon, uses vintage dating on all of their sparkling wines and changes the ratio of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used each year. This 2006 Brut is composed of 58% Chardonnay and 42% Pinot Noir, has aromas of honeysuckle and vanilla and displays an apple-crispness, with yeasty, biscuit-like flavors, which are typically found in expensive vintage Champagne. I personally love Pinot-blended sparkling wines for their richness and spice, and this bottle offers both creamy and crisp flavors, which perfectly compliment the sweetness of Vermont B&C's flagship cheese.
Bonne Bouche is the 2010 American Cheese Society's winner of the Best Goat Cheese in America award and has a smooth, creamy texture with notes of fresh flowers, citrus and hints of hazelnut. This cheese is perfect on its own, as a salad topping and pairs especially well with sparkling wines. Packaged in its own, small micro-cave, this cheese continues to age until you break the seal and enjoy!