Posts Filed Under crowd pleaser wines

“The Worst Place In The World To Make Wine” (Tasting With The Madeira Wine Institute)

Vinted on November 25, 2015 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review

Madeira tasting 2015“If you’re looking for the worst place in the world to make wine, Madeira would be a candidate.”

Also sprach Rui Falcão, during a recent tasting/masterclass for the media in Philly, hosted by the Madeira Wine Institute.

You see, this is why I love Madeira with a passion bordering on unreasonableness. And the border is quite close. And porous. It’s not a style of wine that could be planned or designed; it had to evolve. It’s the wine world’s version of the triumph of evolution over intelligent design. Well, that and the fact that it’s responsible for what might have been the single most interesting wine to ever get processed by my liver.

Falcão’s talk on the wines of Madeira was fascinating in its highlights of just how absurd Maderia wine is, and how f*cking lucky we wine geeks are to have it.

For starters, the raw material seems… well… underwhelming.

Compared to Champagne, the base wines for Madeira are “truly awful,” according to Falcão; these are wines that are obnoxiously high in acids, and laughably low in alcohol by volume. But of course, they then become “something extraordinary. Madeira is all about how you age the wine…”

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The Ugly Truth, The Pretty Bubbles (Mailly Champagne Recent Releases)

The ugly truth is that I – quite lazily – did not really want to write about Champagne cooperative Mailly (which takes its moniker, and the fruit from its Grand Cru vineyards, from the town of the same name). In fact, I felt so lazy about it, that I employed the writer’s laziest device (the dash) in the very first sentence (shame on me!).

Mailly tasting room

Founded in 1929, this mainly Pinot Noir brand of Champers is owned by twenty-five families (three of which account for more than eighty percent of the outfit overall), produces 500,000 bottles a year, and is farming from the same spots it has since the 1960s. It’s a co-op; the least sexy of Champagne’s production options from a consumer perspective.

Mailly viewNo fancy house (though the fact that the seven floors of the co-op stretch down over twenty meters underground is pretty cool). There’s a neat little tasting room, white chalk roads, and cellars dug by hand (over a period of thirty-six years; by the company founders, mind you, and not by the Gauls).

But while Mailly might not be much in the way of looks when considered next to its more, uhm… media-friendly Champers peers, its wines give plenty of those superficially sexier houses in the region a total run for their money…

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That *Other* Perrier (Joseph Perrier Champagne Recent Releases)

Vinted on October 15, 2015 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, on the road, wine review

Joseph Perrier caves

Jean-Claude Fourmon – president of the fourth-generation family-owned Joseph Perrier in Châlons-en-Champagne – doesn’t seem at all deterred by the fact that, in the U.S., his brand is probably best known as “that other Perrier” that not-as-many people have tasted.

Jean-Claude Fourmon

Jean-Claude Fourmon

He’s quick with amusing witticisms, bordering on platitudes if not for his fantastic delivery; things like, “a day without Champagne is very sad” (truer words were never spoken, I suppose), “we all know that Prosecco is a poison” (definitely not true, but funny), “grapes, blend, and dosage make all the difference, the rest is fantasy” (refreshingly honest), and “‘Can I have another glass?’ That is how I measure success!” (not a bad watermark, methinks).

Now, if he were less affable, he might be a bit more worried about the fact that, since they export seventy-five percent of their production, having a lower profile in one of the world’s largest wine markets isn’t ideal. But Fourmon seems to think that history will prevail.

After all, Joseph Perrier has the Champagne traditions that wine geeks love: along with multi-generational family ownership, there’s multi-generational grape-growing supply agreements, multi-generational cellarmasters, equipment that’s reminiscent of a working museum, and a history that puts the brand in lock-step with the better-known Champers houses (in the early twentieth century, they shared the region’s first paper label with those other brands – only the brand names was changed on each at the time)…

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