Category Archives: Chardonny

WINES FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER

Choosing Wine for Your Holiday Table

Perfectly Paired

 

By Thaddeus Buggs and Susan Spinello

“Wine has a life of its own as it continues to live and breathe from the vine to your lips.”

Halloween may have passed, but the truly scariest time of year is still upon us…family holidays!   The table is set.  The turkey and stuffing are in the oven, and all that’s left is deciding on your beverage of choice.  Selecting the perfect wine for your holiday meal can be daunting.  Should you go with what you know or try something new?  When you’re looking for a beverage to pair with almost everything, look no further than Champagne. It’s the perfect breakfast juice, and for the holidays, it’s unbeatable. Grab a turkey leg, eat some stuffing, then finish it off with a glass of Champagne and experience the magical acidity, minerality and fruit come alive.

Try Growers Champagne, from Champagne, France.  There are about 5000 of these small growers of really good juice at a reasonable price. Growers tend to focus on terroir because they want their wines to have a sense of place and the three main grapes grown in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  The best way to identify a grower of Champagne is to look for RM (Recoltant-Manipulant) on the label. Some favorites to look for are @Champagne Voirin-Jumel, @Champagne Paul Dethune, @Champagne Marc Hebrart, and @Champagne Paul-Etienne Germain.

You may be visited by your crazy Austrian Uncle Gruner Veltliner, who is really a “foodie”, that’s fun and easygoing.   In fact, he really should be the star attraction at the dinner table due to his compatibility with turkey, peas, artichoke and asparagus.  His reputation was almost completely ruined when the skeletons in his closet exposed an antifreeze scandal, but he just wanted to make you think he was sweeter than he was.  Gruner Veltliner is like a golden Margarita, with vibrant notes of lime, tangerine, green pear and grapefruit brushed with hints of saline and white pepper.  He’s a bit of an acid head, but hang out with Uncle Gruner and you’ll soon welcome him to every holiday table.  Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner from Kamptal is a perfect way to familiarize yourself with Gruner.

Then there’s your French Grandmother, Gamay, but most people know her as Beaujolais.  Don’t be fooled.  Gamay is not as sweet or whimpy as you may think.  Her family skeletons continue to drag down her good name with the annual production of whole cluster grapes crushed under its own weight along with carbon dioxide to produce a non-structured, popsicle-sweet concoction meant for copious consumption on the 3rd week of November.  Stay away from Auntie Beaujolais Nouveau.  Instead, try a Beaujolais Cru from one of the ten communes that grow Gamay in granite soil, creating a rich, velvety texture with red fruit, pomegranates, violets and savory spices.  @Domaine De La Voute des Croze produces Cote-de-Brouilly Beaujolais and is single-handedly crafted by winemaker Nicole Chanrion. Grandma Gamay is a rich, complex patriarch…though you wouldn’t know it from her family.

Now we need a big boy to show up late and make a grand entrance at the family table and guess who knocks at the door: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which translates to “The Pope’s New Castle”.  If it’s good enough for the Pope, you know it will be a sure crowd pleaser.  Chateauneuf is located in the Southern Rhone Valley of France. The main grapes varieties are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.  These wines are earthy, gamey flavors, black fruit, white/black pepper and a long lingering finish waiting on the gravy to be poured over the stuffing. Look for these wines: @ChateauRayas, @ChateaudeBeauCastel, @DomaineduVieuxLazaret, and @ClosSaint-jean.

This year open yourself up to something new and open up a bottle of something new.  There’s nothing scary about that.  Cheers #Goodjuice

 

 

 

 

RIESLING, THE BEST WHITE WINE IN THE WORLD

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Mosel is the oldest and arguably the best known of 13 wine regions in Germany. It takes it’s name from the picturesque Mosel River.  Prior to the 2007 vintage, the region was listed as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer; the name was eventually shortened to be more “consumer-friendly.” Mosel is Germany‘s third largest wine region in terms of production.  The region stretches the length of the twisting Mosel River and along it’s two tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer.  The Mosel Valley is well known for it’s steep, terraced hillsides abutting the river banks. In fact, the steepest recorded vineyard in the world is the Mosel’s Calmont vineyard belonging to the village of Bremm.  The Mosel Wine Region is where magic happens because of it’s soil, topography, and climate, producing in my opinion The World’s Greatest White Wine.  “RIESLING”

Riesling is the most versatile of the white grape varieties and no other grape gives you more of a sense of Terrior.  Riesling can either be produced bone dry or sultry sweet and this why Reisling is called the great noble grape in Germany.  Riesling is sexy and interesting while Chardonnay can be down right boring.

To emphasize the specific soil differences that exist within the Mosel, the Blue Slate of the Fahrlay plot produces a Riesling with a particularly intensive mineral flavor and slightly salty note in the finish. Whereas, the Grey Slate produces a Riesling for Grobes Gewachs Marienburg (GG) that is creamy, yellow peach, mango aroma. The harmoniously integrated acidity gives the wine an invigorating freshness with a powerful finish.

The only other white grape that one could compare to the greatness of Riesling is Chardonnay grown in Burgundy France. This is not only where the best Chardonnay is made but it’s also the most expensive white juice on earth. Chardonnay is grown all over the world, whereas Riesling prefers a particular soil to show her greatness and the Mosel Region in Germany is perfect.

The families below have pioneered and contributed to produce the best Reisling in the world:

The Prum family story dates back to 1156 when they owned vineyards throughout the mid-Mosel, including parcels in the towns of Bernkastel, Graach, Wehlen and Zeltingen. Current owner Raimund Prum, aka “The Red Prum,” took over the reins in 1971, following the unforeseen passing of his young father.

The Clemens Busch family is one of the top producers of Dry Organic Riesling in Germany. The estate is located in the village of Pünderich (near Bernkastel) far down stream in the Mosel wine-growing region. The family lives in a restored 1663 timber-framed house that sits directly on the banks of the Mosel River facing some of the steepest vineyards in the Mosel.

St Urbans-Hof winery was founded in 1947 by Nicolaus Weis who held a strong conviction that the fragile unity of viticulture and nature must be recognized and respected. In 1997 Nicolaus’ grandson Nik(olaus) joined the winery to work alongside his father Hermann who had overseen operations since the 1960s.  Today St. Urbans-Hof is the second largest family-owned winery in the Mosel

Bodega Catena Zapata

A little history about Bodega Catena Zapata:The Historic 1997 Nicolas Catena Zapata Tastings

 Nicolás Catena, sailed from Italy to Argentina in 1898 and planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Malbec had been a blending grape in Bordeaux. But Nicola suspected it would find its hidden splendour in the Argentine Andes. Domingo, his son, inherited that dream and took the family winery to the next level, becoming one of the largest vineyard holders in Mendoza. 

By the 1960s, however, Familia Catena was struggling. The Argentine economy was in shambles and inflation rates were soaring. One year, Domingo realized that it would cost him more to harvest than to leave the fruit on the vines. He asked his twenty-two year old son Nicolás, a recent PhD graduate in economics, what to do about such a dilemma. Nicolás advised him not to harvest. Domingo could not follow his son’s advice with a clear conscience and picked anyway. Nicolás still remembers the sadness he felt for his father that year.

But in the early 1980s, Nicolás left Argentina to become a visiting professor of economics at the University of California, on the world-renowned campus at Berkeley.

Nicolás Catena returned to Mendoza with a vision in mind. From one day to the other, he sold his table wine producing company, keeping only Bodegas Esmeralda, the fine wine branch of the family business. At that time Argentina was perceived as a bulk wine producer and Nicolás was told by many of his colleagues in Argentina that he was “completamente loco” (completely crazy).

But Nicolás Catena is not someone to be easily discouraged. During the 1980s, Nicolás set out to discover the best places to plant vineyards in Mendoza. When recently asked why he decided to plant Chardonnay and Malbec in Gualtallary, at almost 5,000 feet elevation, Nicolás answered, “I felt that the only way we would make a leap in quality would be by pushing the limits of vine cultivation, by taking risks”. His own vineyard manager had told him that Malbec would never ripen there, but it did, and beautifully. Nicolás found that Mendoza was exceptional for vine growing, with each high altitude valley providing a unique flavor and aroma profile of the same varietal. He found that the poor soils near the Andes, discarded by the original European immigrants due to their low fertility, were actually ideal for quality viticulture. And that the desert climate was an asset because it allowed him to control quality and hang time through strict irrigation control. 

Then came the challenge of what to do with Malbec. Nicolás did not have his father’s confidence in Malbec. Domingo Catena fiercely believed that Argentine Malbec could make a wine as worthy as any first growth Bordeaux. Nicolás was not sure that Malbec would be able to age. In 1989, after his father Domingo died, Nicolás put all his sorrow into trying to see if his father’s intuition was right. It took 5 years of working on the 60 year old Angélica vineyard before Nicolás was satisfied enough to make a Catena Malbec in 1994. Then came the question of which clones to plant in the new vineyards. Since there was no existing Argentine Malbec clonal selection, Nicolás decided to bring clones from Cahors, France. The French Chardonnay clones had given him his best white. But results for French Malbec clones were disappointing. They grew large berries and bunches with rustic aromas and flavors. 

Nicolás set out to develop his own selection of Argentine Malbec clones planting 145 clones in the La Pirámide vineyard. Of these, he selected the best five and began to plant them in different terroirs and altitudes.

By 1994, Nicolás and his team felt that they had identified their best vineyard lots for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. First with Cabernet Sauvignon in 1994, Nicolás bottled a small cuvée from the oldest and most uniform lots in the La Pirámide vineyard. Three hundred cases of Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon were made. In 1995, Nicolás bottled his first Chardonnay from cool climate Tupungato region, sourcing the fruit from Lot 4 of the Domingo vineyard for the Catena Alta Chardonnay. The next year, in 1996, two acres of lot 18 of the Angélica vineyard produced the best Malbec, and Nicolás made his first Catena Alta Malbec.

1997 was a phenomenal Cabernet Sauvignon vintage, and Nicolás Catena started plans to make another top cuvée, a wine that would fulfill those dreams that had started in the early 1980s. The wine, named Nicolás Catena Zapata (Zapata is Nicolás’ mother’s maiden name), was a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec. It was released in 2001 through a series of blind tastings held in the USA and Europe where it was compared blind to Château Latour, Haut Brion, Solaia, Caymus and Opus One. The Nicolás Catena Zapata 1997 came in either first or second in every tasting.

Tasting Notes:

This winery makes serious wines for all levels of wine enthusiasts.  The 2012 Catena Alta Chardonnay made in a classic Burgundy style floral, lemon and citrus on the palate, 12 to 16 months aged in new french oak.  The acidity is perfectly balance throughout the finish.

2010 Catena Alta Malbec and Cabernet, wines that are rich in blackberry fruit, spices and luscious tannins structure on the finish.

2009 Nicolás Catena Zapata, is probably the best wine made in Argentina, 75% Cabernet and 25% Malbec. Black cherry, blackberry, spices and violets, 24 months in new French oak.  A great wine for the serious wine drinkers.

 

Cuveliers Los Andes/ Diam Andes

The story begins in 1804 when Henri Cuvelier set out to share his great passion for fine wine with his friends of the grand bourgeoisie residing in the rich and dynamic towns of the North of France, (Lille, Boulogne Sur Mer, Arras, Valenciennes…) To this aim, he created H. Cuvelier And Fils, a wine Merchant company whose rapid success continued to develop throughout the 19th century.

 

At the beginning of the 20th century, Paul Cuvelier and his young brother Albert, anticipating the inevitable rise in « château-bottled wines » to the detriment of the « tailor-made » blends of the wine merchants, decided to purchase top quality estates in the Bordeaux area. They bought Château Le Crock in 1903, then Château Camensac in 1912 and finally the prestigious Château Léoville Poyferré in 1920. It is interesting to note that, in early 1914, Paul Cuvelier had already come to Argentina, to discover the wines of Mendoza. He found them « pleasant to drink » although not adapted to the French taste at that time. He recommended a watchful eye be kept on their development. In 1946, the family group asked Max Cuvelier to create a second Fine Wine Merchant’s based in Bordeaux. It was, as it transpired, essential to have an address in the Pavé des Chartrons if one wished to be part of the Bordeaux wine world. This company has since flourished both in France and around the world.

 

family_03In 1998 Bertrand Cuvelier made the happy choice of personally accompanying Michel Rolland in his great Argentine project, which was to become the« Clos de Los Siete »group. Three years later, Jean-Guy Cuvelier decided to join his cousin Bertrand in the joint aim of building a Winery and producing fine wines worthy of the family tradition. The agreement between Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier was symbolically signed in the great office of their common ancestor, Henri Cuvelier, in Lille-Haubourdin, in the north of France. Since then, the Winery has been built and each year the vines of Cuvelier Los Andes have contributed 50% of their production to « Clos de Los Siete », the wine signed by Michel Rolland. The success of this wine is worldwide due to the exceptional value for money it offers.

 

family_02The 2003 yield has also allowed the production of the first edition of «Cuvelier Los Andes-Coleccion». Then the 2004 harvest saw the arrival of our first edition of «Cuvelier Los Andes – Grand Vin ». With the 2005, Cuvelier Los Andes S.A., aside from its significant contribution to «Clos de Los Siete», can now present three wines, produced with the help and advice of Michel Rolland: Coleccion – Grand Vin – Grand Malbec. The quality of these wines, produced from young wines, is well beyond our original hopes. Will the Argentine cousins rival in the future with the fine wines of Bordeaux. It is for the consumers to decide. Time will tell.
A last word: We are proud to announce that the new generation has decided to join the crew, taking on the sales and marketing of the Cuvelier Los Andes S.A.

Cuvelier Los Andes is a great winery in Mendoza Argentina, led by there very talented winemaker Fedemco Bieeotto who was well trained in his craft in California and assisted by the world renown consultant Michel Rolland.

One of the reasons there wines are so fresh and vibrant is the introduction to a new wine making technique called Micro Vinification which means the winemaker put whole berry fruit in steel tank or barrel for fermentation.   This technique reduces the amount of oxygen the grapes are exposed to during fermentation.

This winery make very good white wines, Viognier, and Chardonnay, but make no mistake they are a great red wine making winery.  These wines aren’t your ordinary Argentina wines they are made fresh, lively and in the French style of wine making.

I tasted through several of the Cuvelier wines and the best of the best was the 2008 Cuvelier Los Andes Grand Vin “WOW” what a great wine that was powerful from the first time I smell the wine and when I put it on my palate it was explosive with fruits of blackberry, blueberry, spices, my final description as it coated my palate was “A Mouth Full of Joy”.

Thank you Pablo for a great tasting.  Cheers

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