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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 335

May I Be Franc With You (WBW #44 – French Cab Franc Review)

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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

(images: nysaes.cornell.edu, artsci.wustl.edu, merchantwines.com)

This edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo and I tasting a French Cabernet Franc, as part of Wine Blogging Wednesday #44. This WBW theme comes to us courtesy of the irrepressible Gary V. over at Wine Library TV.

Before Plumboo and I head of to Chinon in France’s Loire valley (more on that later) & get tasting, the Dude needs to give you a bit of French Cab Franc background, lest you navigate these waters all-uneducated-like and get burned picking up a bottle of wine that you hate. Similar caution should be exercised whenever tasting any wine with a French label on it – not because French wines suck (they most certainly don’t), but because French wine labels (most certainly do) suck.

In France, the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system guarantees a wine’s place of origin. It (roughly) forms the basis of most other similar wine quality systems in many other countries. You may now be asking yourself, “wait a second Dude – place of origin or quality… which one is it?”

The answer is… “Yes”…

That’s because in France, they have (with few exceptions) the belief that over centuries of grape-growing (aka trial-and-error), they know what grapes work best for each viticultural area of the country. Which is why you will rarely see “Cabernet Franc” listed on the label of a French wine. Instead, you need to know which areas are permitted to grow and vinify which grape varieties. It’s one of the ways that the French like to use to piss off Americans (caution: joke in progress).

Most French Cab Franc is grown in Bordeaux. But you’d never know it, because it’s one of the grapes (along with the more well-known Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot) that goes into the classic Bordeaux red wine blends. Cab Franc is an easy-going grape (in terms of soil and climate), and it ripens earlier than it’s little-brother Cab Sav. In the Bordeaux blends, it adds some color, berry flavor, and even hints of floral and vegetable aromas to round out the softer Merlot and harsher Cab Sav.

However, Cab Franc has also found an AOC certified home in other areas of France, where it gets to shine all by its glorious lonesome self. Most notably, this vino-illumination happens in the Loire valley – a very big swath of land that runs along the (very long) Loire river. Along the banks of the Loire are many, many gorgeous castles, and many, many styles of gorgeous wines.

This tasting takes Plumboo and I (virtually of course) to Chinon, an old town that gained importance (dating back possibly to pre-recorded history) due to its location on the banks of the Vienne river where it meets the Loire. The area has been home to monasteries, forts, castles, and good winemaking.

For WBW #44, Plumboo and I chose a 2005 Jean-Maurice Raffault “Les Galuches” from Chinon. This Cab Franc is a gorgeous purple, with lots of dark berry, a bit of green pepper, and a smaller hint of vegetable (stalks) in your nose. There’s quite a bit of cheek-drying tannin and some blackberry in your mouth. A nice “everyday” wine that could end up being a crowd-pleaser at your next party. The Purple Monkey approved, anyway.

While you can find decent example of Cab Franc in many other locales, especially in the U.S. While these are also good everyday wines, they often lack the finesse of their Loire valley counterparts, who have set the Cab Franc standard (and are definitely worth the trip ‘down river’).

Cheers!

Fresh Takes on Organic Wine

Vinted on March 31, 2008 under organic wine, wine tips

(images: wpsignsystems.com, organic.lovetoknow.com)

Those of you who have been following the Dude’s blog know that when it comes to organic wines I have been, let’s just say, less than kind in the past on the quality and viability of these products.

To provide yet another perspective in my ongoing love/hate affair with all things organic. my partner in crime Jason Whiteside has offered up some comments on the organic trends impact for wine consumers.

Jason fully acknowledges the marketplace trends towards organic products, even though he is not influenced by it himself per se (according to Jason, “I am not a vegan. Whatever the opposite eating style to vegan is, that is what I am.“).

Organic-minded consumers should be aware of the hidden dangers in their wine bottles. According to Jason:

Along with the wave of social food consciousness, it is natural to wonder about the wine we drink. Is it organic? Is wine OK for vegans to drink? What do we really know about the contents of any given bottle? Consumers who are sensitive to the use of animal products should know why and how animal products are used in the manufacture of wine. Eggs whites, isinglass (the powdered swim bladders of fish), and other proteins are used in the fining process, which helps make a wine clear.

Often times, when wine is made, it has a hazy or cloudy appearance from suspended particles. Nobody wants to drink hazy wines, for most of us are rightfully programmed to believe a good wine should be clear and bright. So the winemaker will use a carefully measured amount of protein to help remove the haze. This works because the protein carries an electrostatic charge opposite to the particles in the haze. They cling to each other, and fall out of the wine as sediment. The clear wine is then racked off the sediment, which means that for practical purposes there is no clarifying agent (egg whites) left in the bottle.

For those who are over-the-top-serious about their organic shopping, even these fining procedures may not be enough:…

But, who really knows if there is absolutely none left? Testing for that would be more expensive than it is worth.

All is not entirely hopeless for these consumers, however: “As a consumer, it is relatively easy to find a list of wines that are either unfined or fined without animal products. This website lists vegan wine, and I have found it to be very helpful: http://vegans.frommars.org/wine. I recommend the wines from Rosenblum (especially their Petit Syrah) and Houghton Chardonnay, in particular.

As for the current state of organic winemaking, Jason leans towards my assessment that good examples of these wines are harder to come by (but well worth the effort once you do finally get your hands on them):

For consumers who look for organic or vegan wines, my hope is that more skilled winemakers take up the challenge of green winemaking. It is not an easy undertaking. Sulfur dioxide buys a winemaker a lot of time by keeping the grapes fresh, and fresh grapes mean better wine. If you want to see how fast harvested fruit starts to spoil in your own home, cut an apple in half, and see how long it takes to start to turn brown. The ‘browning’ is the effect oxygen has on fruit; sulfur dioxide protects against this. It will be difficult for winemakers to forever put away their chemicals, eggs, and fish bladders, and I for one would not ask them to. But, for those to whom this matters, know that quality wines are being made without the extra stuff. You just have to go out and find them.

Cheers!

More Moore Wine Reviews

Vinted on March 28, 2008 under twitter, wine mini-reviews, wine review

Well, after nearly two months, I’ve (finally) finished off my sample case from the fabulous Moore Bros. As for why it took me so long to review these – hey, there’s a lot of wine to be had out there!

As promised in a previous post, I’ve recorded my thoughts on each wine in my Wine Mini-Reviews, available on twitter.

Below you will find the detail (such as it is on twitter, with its 140 character limit) on each wine. In summary, Mr. McDuff and friends certainly know their stuff; I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the majority of the wines in the sample case, especially when you contrast that with their relatively low price points.

My favs? France did well with the Dude this time around, as both of my favorite picks from this batch were French:

Read on for the twitter review round-up…


1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Ch. Bellevue (Fronsac): Progressing nicely. Soft for Bord’x, & approachable. Aroma is promising, palate doesn’t quite live up to it.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Emrich-Schonleber Monzinger Riesling QbA trocken (Nahe): Minerals galore but low on florals. Think my bottle was flawed though.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Ch. les Fromenteaux Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine Clos du Poyet (Loire, Fr): Minerals. Fruit. Body. Nice – but not quite harmonious.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Corzano e Paterno Chianti (Colli Fiorentini, It): It’s what’s on *top* of the fruit – orange & spice – that makes it special. Decant it.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Corte Gardoni (Custoza, Italy): Fruity, austere, with a tiny bit of spice & nut. Who knew Garganega could be so bold? Killer with salad.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Domaine Georges Trichard Chenas (Beaujolais, Fr): Candied cherry, plum & flowers. But it’s got some heft as well & could age. Fine stuff.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Brunori Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi “Le Gemme”: Nutty, pleasing acidity & Chardonnay-esque fruit. I’m startin to like this producer!
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Rosso Piceno Tourquis Brunori (Marche, It): Classic Sangiovese nose, & the Montepulciano provides a little kick. Could get used to this!
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Domaine André Bonhomme Viré-Clessé (Burgundy): Apricot & oak. Like meeting a bourgeoisie madam in a proletariat nightspot. Classy.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview ’06 Lorenzino Ettore Germano Dolcetto d’Alba (Italy): Cherries & tobacco in great balance. Nice, but I prefer Dolcetto to be a bit livelier.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Le Premier Pas Domaine Le Pas de l’Escalette (Cot. du Languedoc): Harmonious blend of S. Rhone grapes. French red without the shackles.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Touraine Sauvignon La Pointe Domaine Ricard: A pink grapefruit grenade hurled from the heart of the Loire at your nose. Very good SB.

Cheers!

How 1+1 Can Equal 3: Making Every Wine Experience Exceptional (Guest Post)

Vinted on March 26, 2008 under guest posts, wine how to

The following is a guest post from Jason Whiteside. Jason was previously a Sommelier & Wine Consultant on the Dutch/French Island of St. Martin, and was the original Wine Director of Cosimo Wine Bar in Malvern, PA. He is part of the Wine Educator staff at ChaddsFord Winery, and holds the Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wine & Spirits (with Distinction) from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, holding their Certified Specialist of Wine qualification. Most importantly, he is Joe’s partner in crime over at 2WineDudes!

(images: jupiterimages.com, www.csc.gov.sg)

HOW 1+1 CAN EQUAL 3

In my business, I field a lot of questions about wine. The hardest questions to answer are the ones that start like this: “I was in Tuscany on vacation, and we had this incredible bottle of wine. We brought some home, and it doesn’t taste the same. Why is that?”

The answer is difficult to explain. Different atmospheric pressures can alter the taste of a bottle. The same wine that was great high up in the mountains can taste flat if drank at sea level. Or, maybe the wine hadn’t recovered from the trans-atlantic jostling at 35,000 feet. But the reality is usually just this: they aren’t on vacation anymore. Since most of the other parts that made up such a great overall drinking experience are still back in Tuscany, the answer is usually that simple.

The reason, in other words, is that a glass of wine is an experience, not just a taste

I believe that any extraordinary wine experience is usually a combination of a few different contextual factors: the food that accompanies it, the people with whom you drink it, and the atmosphere in which this all takes place. For example, maybe it was a decent bottle of wine you had on vacation, but it lacked that special quality it had in Italy when you drank it at home. So why do you have such fond memories of that wine? Maybe because you spent the day with your loved one walking around the hills of Tuscany, climbing the medieval towers of San Gimignano, and ended your day with a delicious meal of bistecca alla fiorentina. All without a single thought of your emails piling up at work. Good wine with the right people, in the right place, or with the right food, allows the combination to be greater than just the sum of the parts.

So, the question becomes, how do we make a good bottle of wine taste extraordinary at home? This starts with finding a quality wine. An example of an exceptional bargain is Rolf Binder’s 2004 Fetish The Watcher Australian shiraz. This wine, packed with red fruits, ripe raspberries, and a hint of spice on the nose, is on sale for $9.99 in PA, marked down from roughly $26.00. I tried it months ago, and I thought it was a good buy at $26.00, so consider it a steal at $9.99!

Now that you have the right wine, add the right surroundings, have the right food. Leave the frozen food in the freezer and make some hamburgers by hand, working some fresh flavors into your ground beef. Slice fresh tomatoes, lettuce, maybe sauté fresh mushrooms. Choose gruyere cheese instead of using those Kraft Singles. Invite over a few friends, fire up your grill, and open up that bottle of Shiraz. If all the right parts are in place, you’ll have an amazing wine experience, and a wonderful time.

And everyone will see how one plus one can equal three.

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