Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Côte du Rhône's Cabaret Burlesque Wine Tasting

by Paige Donner

Côte du Rhône Wine Tasting in Paris on La Nouvelle Seine

The French wine region that is home to Châteauneuf du Pape really knows how to host a wine tasting in Paris. Chosen for this range of 22 wines was the charming and exceedingly festive La Nouvelle Seine.

La Nouvelle Seine is a very large boat/barge ("peniche" in French) parked just in front of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. It's large enough in fact to be able to host 80+ people on the top deck for a stellar wine tasting and then put on a burlesque show in its lower decks, replete with a dozen and more costume changes.

Inter Rhône, the regional wine board, is who organized the event and provided the wines for tasting.  The Rhône valley has many famous wine appellations of course, such as Chateauneuf du Pape, Hermitage and Vacqueyras but for this evening's tasting we had the privilege of discovering many outstanding gems with the Côte du Rhône Villages label.

La nouvelle Seine photo by Paige Donner IMG_2419La nouvelle Seine wine tasting photo by Paige Donner  IMG_2420La nouvelle Seine wine tasting photo by Paige Donner IMG_2418

It's a good thing the wines were so memorable given the spectacular distractions of the magnificent cathedral as backdrop and then the over the top and barrels of fun Burlesque show we were treated to.

Wines poured included:


Maison Chapouter - Roc Folassière, Côte du Rhône Blanc 2015

Domaine de la Presidente - Côte du Rhône Villages Cairanne 2014

Domaine Pique Basse  L'Atout Pique  Côte du Rhône Villages Roaix 2015


Domaine Les Grands Bois  Philippine  Côte du Rhône 2014

Domaine du Val des Rois  Signature Côte du Rhône Villages Valréas 2012

Domaine Clavel Cordélia  Côte du Rhône Chusclan  2014

Domaine Corinne Depeyre Les Phacélies Côte du Rhône 2012

Domaine Montirius Serine Côte du Rhône 2011

Maison Gabriel Meffre 1936  Côte du Rhône 2015

Domaine des Pasquiers Côte du Rhône Plan de Dieu 2014

Domaine de Cabasse Garnacho Côte du Rhône Séguret 2012

And the video that Inter Rhône made about the evening is here:



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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wine School In Burgundy

by Paige Donner

Just the mention of Burgundy wines gets most wine lovers' taste buds salivating and their minds conjuring up those exquisite moments when they've tasted these delightful wines. 

burgundy wines unnamed

Burgundy wines are most certainly beloved around the world but the complexity of the region, a self-described mosaic of patchwork "climats" or micro-terroirs, can leave even the most devoted connoisseur feeling a bit, well, swallowed up. 

Thank goodness then for the willingness of the region's wine board, and its affiliate Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne (wine school), to educate those who express a sincere interest in learning more about these wines and the often painstaking effort that goes into making them what they are. 

atelier professional bourgogne unnamed

This most recent Atelier hosted by the Burgundy Wine School had a focus on Burgundy wine and food pairings. Participating with a group of mostly French wine trade connoisseurs it was fascinating to see the diversity of opinion among a group that one might imagine would all fall into line in terms of taste. But, no! While there were commonalities among the group, the big take away from the lessons was that while there are wine and food pairing guidelines to follow, in Burgundy there will always be exceptions to those. 

Take for example the wine pairing with foie gras. In France foie gras is often paired with a sweet wine. However we were asked to savor the pairing chemistry with not just a sweet wine (from the south part of Macon) but also a dry slightly tannic red and a dry white. The foie gras had a slight seasoning of black pepper on it and one slice had a dab of fig confiture. These refined details altered the pairing choices immensely. We were then asked to find a harmonious pairing with each type of foie gras (with pepper or with fig confiture) and then to find the contrasting pairing.  A round table Q+A with the 29 participants revealed diverse palates and tastes. Surprisingly, at least to me, there was one French sommelier who found the fig confiture and foie gras dish too sweet to pair with the sweet wine - a sentiment that I shared precisely but thought I would be alone in that opinion. 

The Wines (mentioned above):

Mercurey, Le Clos du Roy 2012 - Chateau de Chamirey

Mâcon Igé, La Cra 2013 - Domaine Pierre Yves et Olivier Fichet

Mâcon Villages Héritage Vendanges tardives 2006 - Domaine Michel

The takeaway from two days of tastings, food pairings, cellar visits and walks through the Beaune vineyards?  If Burgundy wines are something you appreciate, you must go there and take your own series of classes to further appreciate this complexity and refined grace in a glass. 

Luckily the Burgundy Wine School is happy to work with groups and tour providers to help coordinate seminars and wine classes, even focused ateliers be it on food and wine pairings or learning more in depth about the Climats de Bourgogne. Contact them for details and pricing quotes.    Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne



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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What's The Big Deal About Bordeaux 2015?

I'll tell you what the big deal is - this is clearly a vintage to rival the already-legendary 2010. 

The Association de Grand Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion held its annual wine tasting yesterday at Paris's Shangri-La Hotel. Nearly all of the 63 producers present were pouring their 2010's side-by-side with their 2015's. That's how bright and shiny this vintage is and how confident the winemakers and estate owners are about showing their babies up against the last crowned millésime.  In certain cases, such as Château Chauvin, where their 2010's were sold out, they poured their '09's, another vintage on the history books. 

A Brief Re-cap of A Few St. Emilion Grands Crus Classés Estates

Château Laroze - An estate that dates back to 1610, whose château was built in 1884 by the great-grandmother of the gentleman pouring the wine, this wine has a Cab Franc profile though its majority, 65% is still Merlot. Up at the top of St. Emilion, just this side of Pomerol, these are wines to buy, cellar and enjoy in good time.

Château Grand Corbin - Unbelievably this 2015 is something already deliverable. That is one of the most outstanding features of this vintage, that in large part these wines are already approachable. No need to try to project 5 or even 10 years into the future to predict what they will become. They already are. Here at this estate you'll find exceptional maturity they credit in part to tailored harvesting, plenty of sun, ripe fruit... In two words, rich, powerful.   Their 2010, if you can still find any, has that nice "torrifié" element to it, in a roasted dark coffee bean way.

Château Destieux  -  Another winner, expect to find their 2015 showing hints of licorice as your tastebuds wrap themselves around a mouthful.  Here they poured their 2008 as complement, whose full frontal tannins say drink me now - with a nice thick grilled steak.

Château Chauvin - Only the second vintage for this new owner and she's lucked into an extraordinary year. All the better for her and her daughter, Julie, who is just taking over the reins of marketing and sales.  They poured their 2009 along with the mature, but not overly mature 2015. No comparison to draw given that the winemaker and technical director are now both new, too.

Château Grand Corbin-Despagne   In the family since 1812 and cultivating vineyards that date back to the 14th c. this 7th generation viticulurist is rightfully proud about his 2015's.They cultivate organic vineyards, since 2004 when they first started in this direction. Up against their 2009, whose silky tannins show this classic predominantly Merlot blend to its best, you can easily see how the fruity, balanced, elegance of their 2015 will evolve its tannins.

Château Fonroque  - One of the great St. Emilion chateaux even among the greats, owner Alain Moueix has been devoted to organic, and more specifically bio-dynamic vineyard cultivation, since before it was even fashionable. This care and delicacy of the handling of each single grape shows in his wines. For the 2009 poured alongside the inevitable superstar-to-be 2015, expect more pronounced tannins. For 2015, it's already a silky balanced magic potion. 

In the words of Mr. Moueix, Chairman of the Association of St.-Emilion Grands Crus Classés: 

With 56 Chateaux, the Association of Grands Crus Classés of St. Emilion is wholly representative of the various terroirs in which the Grands Crus Classés are implemented, thus encompassing all the wealth and complexity of the St.-Emilion area: southern slopes, plateau, northern slopes and gravelly areas.

Together, these properties make up a surface of about 800 hectares which represent 90% of the total surface area of the Grands Crus Classés. 

"Saint-Emilion, nectar des Dieux" - King Louis XIV

In sum, when purchasing St. Emilion, anything from 2015 is going to do well by you. It's a vintage that, remarkably, you will be able to drink young and you will be able to cellar it for the standard of great Bordeaux, of 5, 10 even 25 years and longer. 



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